U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law on the evening of April 8 a law suspending normal trade relations with Russia, a move that would raise tariffs at varying rates on U.S. steel products and other imports from Russia.
Earlier on April 7, the US Congress passed legislation to annul Russia's trade status after a vote in the Senate was delayed for several weeks. Initially, Biden introduced a trade action on March 11 to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Normal trade relations, also known as "most favored nation" trade status, have also been stripped of Belarus for their role in aiding Russia's war effort in Ukraine.
The bill authorizes the President to impose higher duty rates on applicable goods from Russia and Belarus through January 2024, and the President may restore normal trade status with any country, pending Congressional approval.
Along with the suspension of trade status, Biden also signed a separate law to ban energy imports from Russia.
For metals, U.S. import duties from Russia and Belarus could be raised to 18.5% for most unwrought aluminium, 100% for magnesium, 45% for cobalt alloys, 25% for nickel sulphate, and 20% for finished become.
US metal imports from Russia have been falling since 2017
The American Aluminum Association said the US has reduced its dependence on aluminum imports from Russia in recent years.
“Historically, the US has imported significant amounts of primary raw aluminum from Russia,” the association told S&P Global Commodity Insights April 11. and some of its members have in recent years been implicated in unfair trade cases involving imports from various countries, including imports from Russia.”
The trade group said the US aluminum industry also diversified into primary aluminum production from Russia after previous sanctions were temporarily applied in 2018, adding that Russia's share of US aluminum supplies fell to 5.5% from 13. 5% in 2017.
In 2021, the US imported 242,480 tons of aluminum from Russia out of 5.56 million tons of total imports, according to the US Department of Commerce. Imports from Russia in 2021 decreased from 772,809 tons in 2017.
Similarly, steel imports from Russia fell to 1.47 Mt in 2021 from 2.87 Mt in 2017. However, steel supplies to the US from Russia have increased from 977,079 tons in 2019.