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Israel fails to win reprieve from US aluminum, steel tariffs: report

Stiff tariffs imposed by the United States on European, Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminium have sparked tit-for-tat counter measures
Patrick HERTZOG (AFP/File)

Israel has reportedly failed to win exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, with some manufacturers warning that the sanctions could be “death blow” to local industries.

Washington angered its major allies by slapping duties of 25 percent and 10 percent on imports of aluminium and steel in March, using a “national security” justification.

So far, only Brazil, South Korea, Australia, and Argentina have been given a permanent reprieve on the tariffs. Meanwhile close US trading partners, such as Canada and the European Union, were subjected to sanction after the expiry of a temporary grace period on May 31.

The Calcalist business daily reported Monday that Israel has also failed to win an exemption from the tariffs despite recent meetings between officials from Israel’s economy ministry and the Office of the United States Trade Representative on the matter.

According to the report, Dan Catarivas, head of the foreign trade division at the Manufacturers Association of Israel and a former Finance Ministry official, has voiced Israel’s “disappointment” at being subject to sanctions despite the countries’ close diplomatic relations and a free trade agreement between them.

“We are disappointed that despite Israel’s special status as a true friend of the US and the free trade agreement [between the countries], Israel has not been excluded from the imposition of tariffs like Australia,” Calcalist quoted Catarivas as telling the assistant US Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East Daniel Mullaney.

Catarivas added that the tariffs would spell a “death blow” for Israeli  metal and aluminum manufacturers, and expressed concern that the duties would impact other industries which rely on steel and aluminum as inputs.

The overall effect of the US duties on the Israeli economy would be minimal, the Globes financial daily reported in March, with Israeli steel and aluminum exports to the US amounting to only $25 million a year.

By comparison Canada, the largest exporter of steel to the US, exported $5.53 billion worth of steel to the US in 2017.

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