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Rebar Import Surge From Mexico Decried; Monitoring Needs to Improve, USTR Says

Sens. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai urging them to take action to “immediately and meaningfully limit the volume of Mexican steel concrete reinforcing bar (rebar) being imported into the United States.”

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They complained that although the end of 25% tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel included a condition that there would be no surge of imports, rebar imports in 2023 were 18 times higher than the average of 2015-2017, before the Section 232 tariffs were imposed.

Rebar is used in both large buildings and for highways and bridges. With the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the U.S. is building more of these projects.

In May 2019, the U.S. removed a 25% tariff on Mexican steel imports as part of an agreement that imports would not “surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade.”

As stated in the letter, “based on a historical 2015-2017 baseline, Mexican rebar imports increased from 11,203 metric tons per year to 201,943 metric tons in 2023. That 1,703% increase means that imports are more than 18 times greater today than they were less than a decade ago.”

They noted that Mexican rebar had been dumped "at significant rates," but that import volumes were still high. Ten years ago, rebar dumping rates were between 20.58 and 66.7%, but last year, most Mexican exporters' rates were between 2.3% and 5.78%, though Grupo Acerero faced a 16.28% rate.

Inside U.S. Trade reported that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it will be adding rebar to a list of products that Mexico will be monitoring; the spokesperson said the change was already planned before the senators' letter.

On Feb. 16, the USTR told Mexico’s Economy Secretary Raquel Buenrostro that it is urgent that Mexico "take immediate and meaningful steps to address the ongoing surge of Mexican steel and aluminum exports to the United States and the lack of transparency regarding Mexico’s steel and aluminum imports from third countries." The readout of the meeting said that Tai noted that the U.S. has been asking for improvements on this issue for more than a year, and "emphasized that the 2019 Joint Statement on the Section 232 Duties on Steel and Aluminum allows for the reimposition of Section 232 tariffs."