US companies in the farm, auto and other sectors fear tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration on imported steel and aluminum will damage their businesses as Washington’s trading partners retaliate.
While Trumps’ move was praised by the steel industry, other industries bemoaned the effect of new 25 percent levies on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The new tariffs took effect Friday.
Make no mistake: restricting the raw material supply to the US and imposing tariffs on imports from our closest trading partners places American manufacturers directly in harm’s way,” said Paul Nathanson, a spokesman for the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, which represents some 30,000 enterprises that use the affected metals.
“Plans by US manufacturers to expand will be put on hold indefinitely,” Nathanson said. “Companies will be forced into difficult choices about technology, investment and jobs.”
Trump administration officials have defended the tariffs as essential to protecting key long-suffering manufacturing capacity in steel and aluminum, which they view as crucial to national security, which includes the US economy.
“The president’s trade actions have already begun putting steel workers back to work in Ohio and Illinois, and we are grateful for the administration’s commitment to the nearly two million jobs supported by the domestic steel industry,” said Thomas Gibson, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute.
But economists warn that the negative effect of the trade actions, while diffuse, ultimately will overwhelm any upside.
The moves affect sectors that rely on aluminum for soda and soup cans and on steel for any number of construction and industrial activities. The consequences will be more severe if significant retaliatory actions harm US exports.
“While the tariffs may encourage some pickup in domestic metals activity and employment, they are likely to be a net loss for the US economy,” Oxford Economics said in a research note, which estimated a loss of 70,000 jobs due to the tariffs and a potential spillover effect in supply chain disruptions.—AFP