The President’s Long-Forgotten Power To Raise Tariffs



John Veroneau and Kate Gibson

President-elect Trump’s expressed interest in possibly raising tariffs on imported goods has prompted considerable effort in trying to understand the scope of Presidential authority to raise tariffs. While the Congress has primary authority to set tariffs and the U.S. has made extensive international commitments to not raise tariffs, President-elect Trump will have a degree of unilateral authority in this area. Many recent news articles and reports have catalogued Presidential authority in this area. In doing our own research, we uncovered a statute – Section 338 of the Trade Act of 1930 – that has been overlooked but gives the President significant tariff-raising authority, and permits private parties to petition for relief.


John Veroneau is a Chambers’ ranked international trade lawyer and is a partner in the International Trade Practice Group at Covington & Burling LLP. Having served in senior positions in both Executive and Legislative branches, he provides legal and strategic advice to clients on a broad range of international trade and other public policy matters.

Kate Gibson advises clients at Covington & Burling LLP on a broad range of international arbitration and trade-related issues, drawing on her experience in the U.S. government and in international and domestic courts.


This Piece is used with Permission from Law360 and Covington & Burling LLP