Associations Speak Up on Trump’s Metals Tariff Plans

The announcement that the Trump administration would introduce new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum drew positive reaction from groups that represent manufacturers in those industries, but others further down the supply chain called the move shortsighted.

Steel and aluminum are among the most fundamental metals for industrial uses, essential for everything from cars to beer cans to computers. And so it’s not surprising that a wide variety of trade groups have a lot to say about the Trump administration’s unexpected move to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, citing national security concerns.

Here’s how a few industry organizations are responding to yesterday’s announcement:

Metals groups. The Aluminum Association and the American Iron and Steel Institute praised the tariff decision. A quarter of domestic steel capacity goes unused, affecting thousands of U.S. jobs, according to AISI President and CEO Thomas J. Gibson. “We thank the president for meeting with our industry and following through on his commitment to addressing the steel crisis,” Gibson said. Meanwhile, the Aluminum Association said it looks forward to working with the president “on implementation and to creating a more level playing field.”

Manufacturing groups. CNBC reports that a wide variety of associations representing companies that build and maintain machinery, including the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Aerospace Industries Association, and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, have come out against the measure. AEM President Dennis Slater called tariffs “counterproductive,” adding in a statement, “If President Trump wants to boost domestic steel production, the best way would be to invest in our infrastructure system, and focus on further streamlining regulations.”

The retail industry. The Retail Industry Leaders Association expressed strong concern that imposing tariffs would have a deep trickle-down effect. “Today’s announcement that the Trump administration intends to unilaterally impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could have severely negative consequences for the American economy,” said RILA Vice President of International Trade Hun Quach. “If broadly applied, these tariffs will have a downstream impact on every sector and will raise the stakes for other countries to take retaliatory measures that will hurt America’s exporters.”

The beer industry. Similarly, the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers, warned of far-reaching effects. “Though 98 percent of cansheet aluminum is produced in the United States, the tariffs are still expected to raise the cost of ingredients used to make the product,” said the association’s federal affairs manager, Katie Marisic. Meanwhile, the Beer Institute, which represents big brewers like MillerCoors and AB InBev, said the decision would “endanger American jobs in the beer industry and throughout the supply chain.” The group’s president and CEO, Jim McGreevy, added that most imported aluminum for beer cans comes from Canada.

Criticism of the move has been echoed by many legislators, who are pushing Trump to reconsider the policy.

(andresr/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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