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Dominican Republic seeks support for U.S. steel tariff exemption

By on April 27, 2018

SAN JUAN – The Dominican Ambassador to the United States, José Tomás Pérez, and several Dominican officials and business leaders met Friday with members of the U.S. Congress to discuss the island’s already submitted application for an exemption to U.S. steel tariffs.

The meeting was attended by Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Del. Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI).

It was hosted by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), a Dominican who is the first formerly undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress, after the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs went into effect March 23.

“Accelerating the recovery in Puerto Rico should be a top priority in Congress. Nearly eight months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and power grid remain badly damaged, residents are still beset by blackouts, and hundreds of schools remain closed. Puerto Rico needs steel, much of which is provided by the Dominican Republic, to continue rebuilding its infrastructure,” Pascrell, the ranking member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, said in a release issued by his office after the meeting.

Temporary exemptions to the tariffs have been extended to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the EU counties; only South Korea has received a permanent exemption.

“From my position on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, I support the Dominican Ambassador’s request for an exemption agreement with U.S. Trade Representative. And I will continue looking out for the interests of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic,” Pascrell said.

The meeting was also attended by Dominican Industry and Commerce Vice Minister Yahaira Sousa; Dominican Sen. Charles Mariotti; Dominican business leaders José Miguel Vega, the commercial director of Gerdau METALDOM; Anyarlene Bergés, vice president of Communications and Institutional Relations of INICIA; and César Dargam, the executive vice president of CONEP.

Temporary exemptions to the tariffs have been extended to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and EU countries. Only South Korea has received a permanent exemption.

“New Jersey and New York are proud to have the highest populations of Dominican-Americans anywhere in the United States. Dominican-American communities are some of the most vibrant in my district. So ensuring the good health of the Dominican Republic and its neighbors is always a central concern to me,” Pascrell added.

In October, Pascrell urged the Committee on Ways and Means to approve legislative items that would aid in Puerto Rico’s disaster and economic recovery and called on the Trump administration to mount a response to the humanitarian and public health crisis on the island. Also, Pascrell and 12 of his House colleagues introduced a measure that would extend the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to Puerto Rico residents.

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