As we reported here, in late September the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) initiated an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 "to determine the effects on U.S. national security from imports of Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets." China is by far the leading import source of NdFeB magnets.

Comments from interested parties were due November 12. As of this writing, the docket page for this case indicates that 48 comments have been received, with eight posted to the docket and available for download.

The posted comments tend to be brief, with some offering views in support of imposing import restrictions in response to the effect of imports, and some offering views against. For example, Dan Vukovich of Alliance LLC Industrial Permanent Magnets said:

The need for domestic NdFeB production is necessary. However, that should be dictated by the marketplace and not government intervention. Adding an additional tariff on NdFeB magnets (HTS code 8505.11.0070) will be passed on from the importers to their customers who will in turn pass them onto the US taxpayer.

In contrast, John Nellessen of ALL Magnetics Inc. said:

Woefully needed. Of course it is a US National Security Risk ! Not to mention the production of public sector goods that rely on magnets. The whole supply chain is gone up stream and down stream. Put out of business by the Chinese Government funding NdFeB production and technology since the GM / Sumitomo Patents in 1988.

It is not clear at this point whether BIS will hold a public hearing on the matter. The relevant part of the statute says: "In the course of any investigation conducted under this subsection, the Secretary shall ... if it is appropriate and after reasonable notice, hold public hearings or otherwise afford interested parties an opportunity to present information and advice relevant to such investigation."

In terms of a deadline for concluding the investigation, the statute says that "the Secretary [of Commerce] shall submit to the President a report on the findings of such investigation" no later than 270 days after an investigation is initiated, as well as recommendations of the Secretary for action or inaction.