Last night U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a CSMS on the steel and aluminum tariffs that came into effect today, using some very specific language toward foreign-trade zones.

All steel and aluminum imports subject to Section 232 duties must be admitted under Privileged Foreign (PF) status as of today, March 23. In addition, any steel or aluminum imports admitted under PF status prior to March 23 are still subject to the additional 25% steel tariff and 10% aluminum tariff.

Under the mandatory PF status, companies cannot take advantage of inverted tariff savings on steel and aluminum imports.

However, we would like to remind our clients and the FTZ community that there are still many benefits to the FTZ program. Importers, whether operating a zone or not, are all subject to these tariff increases. But with an FTZ, you can take advantage of duty deferment, MPF savings, duty-free exports, and the streamlining of customs procedures. You can also continue to achieve inverted tariff savings on all non-affected commodities.

Given the ever-changing world of import tariffs here in the U.S., it is more important than ever for companies to be looking at duty deferral programs to optimize savings and ensure compliance. 

The CSMS also clarified that the tariffs will apply to imports from all countries beginning May 1. Temporary exemptions until April 30 are in place for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico, and South Korea.

If you would like to see which HS numbers are affected and learn about the exemption process, we covered these topics in a recent blogpost.