All steel and aluminium imports to the US will be subject to punishing tariffs, the Trump White House has announced – and the auto industry is less than thrilled.
Following through on threats of a week ago, steel will be hit by 25 per cent levies; aluminium 10 per cent. The move came into effect just after midnight, Eastern Time, as temporary exemptions for ‘allied countries’ expired. The President is weirdly using an old piece of Cold War-era legislation that allows him to set tariffs if foreign imports ‘risk national security.’ That kind of argument seems tenuous at best.
This is a worldwide move, specifically including not just China, with whom the US has had a long and bitter feud over China’s deliberate flooding of the global market with cheap steel, but also Canada, Mexico and the EU.
All three of the US’s closest industrial allies have threatened to respond to tariffs in like kind, as well as lodging complaints with the World Trade Organisation. Toyota has, just months ago, stated that import tariffs would make US-built cars more expensive.
Meanwhile, the US automotive industry has issued a frustrated response. Ann Wilson, vice president of government affairs at the US Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, said:
“Tariffs on imported steel and aluminum [sic] will hurt the 871,000 Americans our members employ – the largest sector of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
“Many speciality steel and aluminum [sic] materials imported by motor vehicle suppliers are used by hundreds of vehicle parts manufacturers operating in an integrated, complex global supply chain.
“Suppliers’ access to these specialised products – which are often only available from one or two sources in the world – is critical to the industry and our national economy.”
Source: Automotive News