- The Washington Times
Monday, May 9, 2022

The Biden administration said Monday it will suspend Trump-era tariffs on Ukrainian steel for one year to help the country employ workers and maintain a vital industry as it repels Russian invaders.

The Commerce Department said the steel industry employs one in 13 Ukrainians, and some of the nation’s biggest steel towns have been hit the hardest by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “barbarism.” It also pointed to the steel mill in Mariupol, where holdout Ukrainian fighters are hunkered down, as a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression.

“We can’t just admire the fortitude and spirit of the Ukrainian people — we need to have their backs and support one of the most important industries to Ukraine’s economic well-being,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel. Today’s announcement is a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of Putin’s aggression, and that their work will create a stronger Ukraine, both today and in the future.”

The move will temporarily halt a 25% tariff on foreign steel the U.S. imposed on Ukraine and a number of other countries in 2018, with former President Donald Trump saying the influx of cheap metal from abroad harmed American workers.

While Ukraine is a minor supplier of steel to the U.S., Biden officials said the Eastern European country needs the industry to thrive.

“Many of Ukraine’s steel mills have continued to pay, feed, and even shelter their employees over the course of fighting. Despite nearby fighting, some Ukrainian mills have even started producing again,” the Commerce Department said in a news release.

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, hailed the move as a smart way to support Ukraine’s economy and focus on actual threats to the U.S. marketplace.

“Removing the Section 232 tariffs is an appropriate and welcome move from the Biden administration that makes clear our primary concern is with China’s overcapacity, not the people of Ukraine,” he said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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