The United States on Monday suspended for one year the tariffs imposed on Ukrainian steel imports, a move designed to help the war-torn nation’s economy.
In the wake of the dramatic evacuation of civilians sheltering in a steel plant in Mariupol after Russian forces bombarded the port city, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hailed the importance of the industry that continues to operate and employ one in every 13 Ukrainians, providing them with an “economic lifeline.”
“We can’t just admire the fortitude and spirit of the Ukrainian people — we need to have their backs and support one of the most important industries to Ukraine’s economic well-being,” Raimondo said in a statement.
“For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel.”
The 25 percent tariff on steel was imposed in March 2018 to protect domestic industry, although a handful of countries were exempted.
Lawmakers and business leaders had called on US President Joe Biden to remove the duties to help ease the economic blow to the Ukrainian economy.
Raimondo said the move was “a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s aggression.”
Ukraine accounts for only about one percent of US steel imports, according to the Commerce Department.
American firms purchased 218,000 tonnes of steel from Ukraine in 2019, but that figure was down to only about 100,000 tonnes last year.