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Aug 28 -- The Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce, issues a proposed rule revising aspects of the process for requesting exclusions from the duties and quantitative limitations on imports of aluminum and steel . . . . BIS invites public comments on the proposed changes by October 12, 2023.

This proposed rule makes the following four changes to the Section 232 exclusions process:

First, it creates a more efficient General Approved Exclusions (GAEs) process. BIS is committed to maintaining GAEs as a policy matter and is using this proposed rule to further clarify the general process by which GAEs are identified. . . . BIS proposes changing the criteria that has generally been used for GAEs from the HTSUS statistical reporting number that have received no objections to HTSUS classification codes (or subproducts) with very low rates of successful objections. . . . BIS estimates that this change could result in up to a twenty percent reduction in the total number of exclusion requests submitted in the 232 Exclusions Portal, depending on the ultimate objection rate threshold and application used by the Department.

Second, and relatedly, this proposed rule addresses the need to create a more efficient Section 232 exclusions process by introducing a General Denied Exclusions (GDE) process. . . . As with GAEs, GDEs would be applied in a manner that would increase efficiency and have little impact on which products are ultimately subject to or excepted from the tariffs. New GDEs would be identified following an analysis of substantiated objections and exclusion requests that have generally been consistently denied. As described below, BIS introduces GDEs in this proposed rule.

Third, BIS is using this proposed rule as an opportunity to modify the existing certification language and introduce new certification requirements for exclusion requests. . . . BIS proposes modifications to the existing certification on the Exclusion Request Form. With the proposed changes, before filing an exclusion request, requesters would also need to certify that they have first made reasonable efforts to source their product from the United States and then, if unsuccessful in sourcing from the United States, that they have made reasonable efforts to source their product from a country with which the United States has arrived at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security under Section 232. In addition to the certification, requesters would be required to file, simultaneously with their request submission, evidence of the certified sourcing attempts. . . .

Fourth, BIS is proposing similar certification language on the objection form to further ensure objectors can supply comparable quality and quantity steel or aluminum and make it “immediately available” to requestors in line with the standards described in the previous Section 232 IFRs referenced above. BIS welcomes comments from the public on whether this standard is appropriate for the certification or if a different time period should be specified. BIS is also interested in comments on how to address differences between different types of products, which may require longer periods, if a commenter suggests a different time period be specified. . . . BIS is seeking comments (see below) regarding the appropriate form and substance of evidence that must be provided by objectors to support their certification of such sales discussions. This proposed change will reduce cases where objections to an exclusion are made but the objector fails to follow through on supplying the material.

Each of the four proposed changes above would add additional features to the Section 232 exclusions process to better ensure that participants in the Section 232 exclusions process further focus their requests and objections as well as make important changes to improve the efficiency of the Section 232 exclusions process. The proposed requirements to provide certain evidence upon submission, as opposed to later upon request of BIS, will enable BIS to conduct more timely and accurate certification reviews and enhance fairness, transparency, and efficiency in the Section 232 exclusions process for all involved parties. . . .

As part of this proposed rule, BIS welcomes comments from the public, particularly those that participate in the Section 232 exclusions process, on whether the changes included in this proposed rule achieve the stated objectives; at the same time, BIS also welcomes any other comments or suggestions from the public regarding the fairness, efficiency, and transparency of the Section 232 exclusions process.
 
BIS is seeking public comments on the following issues:

• Changing the Requester Certification Text;
• Requiring Objector Certification;
• Additional evidence requirements for new requester and objector certifications (i.e., what form should this evidence take and how should the evidence be defined as sufficient);
• Change in methodology that requires the consolidation of multiple sizes of a specific product within a specific HTS number and providing relief for sizes with no objection (comments on this issue should be specific to the merits and issues associated with this, as well as how it could be administered);
• Eliminating redundancies in the request and objection forms by removing the charts and tables on product characteristics and chemical composition and require a “full, complete description of the product” be provided by the requestor in the noted section of the questionnaire;
• Clarifying the criteria used for identifying GAEs;
• Whether specific products (e.g., aluminum extrusions; boxed aluminum foil; flat-rolled stainless steel of a width of less than 600 millimeters, not further worked than hot-rolled, of a thickness of less than 4.75 millimeters; and flat wire plated or coated in zinc) should continue to qualify for a GAE;
• Creating a GDE process;
• The process and frequency with which reviews of the GAE and GDE processes will undergo, including comments on how often these reviews should be conducted and the types of information that should be requested when the reviews are being conducted.

Section 232 Exclusions: https://www.commerce.gov/page/section-232-investigations
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-18328 [14 pages]

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