A general view of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on October 31. The United States said Monday it is suspending tariffs on Ukrainian steel. File Photo by Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE
May 9 (UPI) -- The Biden administration announced Monday it is temporarily suspending 232 tariffs on Ukrainian steel for one year in a bid to boost the besieged nation's economic strength.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the move is an important one for Ukraine's steel industry, which provides well-paying jobs for 1 in 13 workers in the country as it battles an invasion by neighboring Russia.
Calling steel "an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine," Raimondo invoked the determination of fighters at the Azovstal steel plant in the key southern port city of Mariupol against the invaders as a "symbol of Ukraine's determination to resist Russia's aggression."
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 with attacks from the north, east and south of the country. The Kremlin announced it had captured Mariupol, but has struggled to remove the last Ukrainian resistance fighters from the massive Azovstal plant there.
"Steelworkers are among the world's most resilient -- whether they live in Youngstown [Ohio] or Mariupol," Raimondo said. "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."
The dropping of tariffs, she said, is "a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's aggression, and that their work will create a stronger Ukraine, both today and in the future."
The removal of the 25% tariff on Ukrainian steel imposed four years ago by President Donald Trump is largely symbolic since Ukraine is a relatively minor supplier to the United States, Bloomberg reported.
The country shipped 130,652 metric tons of steel worth about $161 million to the United States in 2021, accounting for less than 0.5% of the U.S. import total, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.