Small Manufacturers Start to Feel the Impacts of President Trump’s Section 232 Steel Tariffs

On May 1 at 9:00 p.m. EDT, the day that country exemptions for the Administration’s Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs were set to expire, President Donald Trump announced an extension period for the exemptions of 30 days. Despite this action, the American manufacturing industry is still faced with higher steel and aluminum costs, extended lead times, and a sense of uncertainty.

An article published by Reuters elaborates on the various situations manufacturers now find themselves facing because of these tariffs. Author Rajesh Kumar Singh writes:

The steel and aluminum import tariffs imposed in March were designed to protect the American industries and its workers from global overcapacity and unfair trade practices. Trump justified the measure saying protecting the industries was important to the country’s national security. He argued that the tariffs would re-open closed mills, sustain a skilled workforce, and maintain or increase production. But the tariffs, which came into effect on March 23, have driven up raw material costs and caused supply delays, rendering the manufacturers’ “Made in the USA” products uncompetitive against their foreign rivals, according to these manufacturing company executives.

PMA’s First Vice Chair Troy Roberts, CEO of Qualtek Manufacturing in Colorado, is featured in the article, discussing how his plans for over $1 million in investments for new capital equipment were derailed due to the increased costs of his raw materials. Roberts elaborated, “There is just no way to sustain expansion, develop new products and bring on new employees – as we thought we were going to do this year.” 

On top of changing investment plans, many companies spend hours renegotiating contracts because of increased steel prices. Mike Schmitt, president and owner of The Metalworking Group in Ohio, explained that his company is increasingly hesitant to buy new equipment because of the tumultuous market. He said, “It’s going to be 2019 before we buy anything because we don’t have enough confidence to do it. There’s just too much uncertainty out there right now.”

PMA is participating in the fight against the steel and aluminum tariffs and supporting our members facing the same challenges as Troy Roberts and Mike Schmitt. As a member of the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, PMA is committed to combatting permanent damage from Section 232 tariffs. In order to learn more about the Coalition and how you can speak out in this fight, please visit tariffsaretaxes.org or follow the conversation with @tariffsaretaxes on Twitter.

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