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Trump Officially Institutes Steel Tariffs

Monday, March 12, 2018

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President Donald J. Trump, a week after announcing he would institute new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, acted on his promise Thursday (March 8), imposing new tariffs but exempting the United States’ NAFTA partners and leaving the door open to other exceptions in the future.

Steel coming into the country from countries other than Canada and Mexico will now face tariffs of 25 percent; aluminum imports will face 10 percent tariffs. The duties will go into effect 15 days after Thursday’s proclamation.

Rolled steel
© / Leonid Eremeychuk

Steel coming into the country from countries other than Canada and Mexico will now face tariffs of 25 percent; aluminum imports will face 10 percent tariffs.

While Trump had said last week that there would be no exceptions to the tariffs, he softened his stance by the time of the official announcement of the duties, exempting the country’s closest neighbors. Exempting Canada was a priority of the United Steel Workers union, which supports the tariffs for countries accused of “dumping” product in the U.S. at prices too low to compete with, but said that Canada was “not the problem.”

More Exceptions Possible

Aside from exempting Canada and Mexico—with whom Trump is seeking to renegotiate NAFTA terms—the president said he would consider removing the tariffs in the future for countries that treat the U.S. "fairly."

Canada accounts for more of the steel coming into the U.S. than any other country, with 16 percent of steel imports coming from that country in the third quarter of 2017, according to the International Trade Administration. Mexico accounted for nine percent of U.S. steel imports during the same period.

According to the Washington Post, 90 percent of the aluminum used in the U.S. is imported from elsewhere.

Trump characterized the United States’ reliance on imports from countries that dump their product at unfair prices as a matter of national security, saying that “a nation that does not protect prosperity at home cannot protect its interests abroad.”

Mixed Reaction

U.S. Steel CEO David B. Burritt, who was present at last week’s initial announcement of the tariffs, said in a statement, “For far too long, steel imports have been allowed to undermine America’s steel strength. Our national security is only as strong as American steel. President Trump’s action will begin to level the playing field for the security and manufacturing strength of the United States.”

While steelmakers praised the tariffs, the Associated General Contractors of America doubled down Thursday on its insistence that the move will be counterproductive to the country’s infrastructure-improvement efforts.

“These new tariffs will cause significant harm to the nation’s construction industry, put tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the president’s proposed infrastructure initiative and potentially dampen demand for new construction projects for years to come,” AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr said in a statement.


Tagged categories: AF; Aluminum; AS; Asia Pacific; Carbon Steel; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Government; Latin America; NA; North America; OC; Program/Project Management; SA; Stainless steel

Comment from Jeffrey Smith, (3/13/2018, 7:26 AM)

For 40yrs. they have beat down the US steel industry. Of coarse the globalists don't want it. If the sky falls we can always lift the tarriffs.

Comment from Paul Hayles, (3/14/2018, 8:24 AM)

Its about time!!!

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (3/14/2018, 11:33 AM)

Jeffrey, I both agree and disagree with your statement. For 40 years, the pursuit of the mighty dollar has meant cheap and plentiful gets bought, regardless of the impact to the domestic producers (or, in some cases, the quality of the product). The result has been the US steel industry has been beaten down because they could not compete with cheap labor and energy prices elsewhere. Depending on how long the tariffs are in place, when the "sky falls" the cheap international producers may have other clients to supply to and there will be considerable lag time before they can supply to the US in the required quantities again. I'm not saying the tariffs are bad or foreign steel good...but that there will be a big adjustment for the US with this change and, likely, a bit of a hard time for steel until the US mills can get back up to a level where they can meet the domestic demand and consumers adjust to the new pricing.

Comment from Jeffrey Smith, (3/14/2018, 12:56 PM)

Point taken. But we have to start somewhere. Just to put things in perspective, even a 25% increase in steel cost only drives up the cost of the total project cost (earth work, concrete, electrical, plumbing, exterior, etc) by 2% according to AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction). It is not one world yet, and I beleive we should lookout for America first.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (3/15/2018, 11:10 AM)

Very true, Jeffry (of course, the percentage will vary with the project....higher prices having more impact on a steel bridge or pipeline than an office tower, subway tunnel or sports arena). The other thing to consider is lag time vs. price. Can the US mills be competitive for a big project if it will take them an additional 2 months or 6 months to get the steel to a project? All just points to ponder, but I still believe there is a lot of adjustments that will come out of the tariffs. It's a "may you live in interesting times" quasi curse thing ;)

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