The U.S. on Monday suspended 232 tariffs on Ukrainian steel for a year, in a new attempt to boost the war-torn country’s economy.
“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,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in announcing the tariff rollback.
“For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel,” she said.
But how much the tariff curb might help Ukraine’s economy was not immediately clear. The U.S. is the world’s biggest steel importer, but Ukraine was not among the top 10 national exporters to the U.S. in 2019, according to a government report.
The U.S. said the Ukrainian steel industry employs one in 13 workers in the country, but that the country’s steel plants have been among the hardest hit targets during Russia’s invasion of the country, including the massive Azovstal plant in the port city of Mariupol.
Despite the devastation halting operations at the steel plants, the U.S. said some of the factories have continued to pay, feed and shelter their workers. Some of the steel plants have reopened even with fighting nearby.