May 07, 2020: The Department of Commerce announced that they are investigating imports of Mobile Cranes as a possible threat to national security. The Investigations on 232 violations was sparked by a petition to the Department of Commerce from domestic crane manufacturer Manitowoc Company Inc. If it is found that the number of mobile crane imports does threaten our national security they will impose additional duties to offset the threat. Currently, the normal duty rate on imports of mobile cranes is “free”.
Section 232 of the trade expansion act of 1962 allows the President the authority to impose additional tariffs (duties) on products that have been found to have a negative impact on our national security. There have been nine affirmative Section 232 investigations under President Trump's Administration. Of the nine affirmative findings the President only took action on six of them. The most notable of these affirmative investigations was the use of Section 232 as the catalyst for the implementation of additional duties on aluminum and steel imports.
In a Manitowoc petition to the Department of Commerce they made allegations that the increased import of low priced and Intellectual Property Infringement mobile cranes has harmed our domestic crane manufacturing industry. They singled out Germany, Austria and Japan as three countries at the forefront of the issue. Manitowoc claims that these imports caused the closure of one of two production facilities in the US, which eliminated hundreds of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin. They allege that the imports of mobile cranes increased by 152% between 2014 and 2019.
What Do Mobile Cranes Have To Do With National Security?
Mobile cranes are heavily utilized in national defense and critical infrastructure applications, which make them a critical industry in the United States.
The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and security will investigate the allegations presented in the petition and also provide an opportunity for public comment. The DOC has 207 days to complete and prepare their report for presentation to the President for action. The President then has 90 days to decide whether or not he concurs with the DOC findings and determine action. The President may implement the recommendations suggested in the report presented by the DOC, take other action or may decide to take no action at all. After the President makes his decision he has 15 days to implement the action and 30 days to submit a written statement to Congress explaining his decision.