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US Delays Steel Tariffs for Some Nations

Thursday, May 3, 2018

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The United States tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from various countries have been delayed as the U.S. continues negotiations that could head off duties for the nations.

Media reports late Monday (April 30) indicated that the administration of President Donald J. Trump will postpone the tariffs, originally to go into effect May 1, until at least June 1. The countries involved in the delay include: Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and the European Union.

© iStock.com / zhaojiankang

Several countries will continue to be exempt from the steel and aluminum tariffs put into place in March by the Trump administration.

Argentina, Australia and Brazil have reportedly reached agreements with the U.S. that will cancel the tariffs altogether, though that has not been confirmed officially.

Steel Imports

Trump first announced the tariffs in March, setting duties of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports. Weeks later, the Department of Commerce confirmed that some countries would have opportunities for exemption as trade negotiations continued.

Tariffs initially went into effect for some countries March 23. Canada and Mexico were exempt immediately, and temporary exemptions for other countries soon followed.

Steel bridge construction
© iStock.com / cirano83

The Associated General Contractors of America argued from the beginning that the move will be counterproductive to the country’s infrastructure-improvement efforts.

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.

Industry Reaction

U.S.-based makers of steel and aluminum applauded the tariffs from the beginning, but some others expressed concerns about their effect on material prices and the potential for a trade war.

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.”

The Associated General Contractors of America argued from the beginning that the move will be counterproductive to the country’s infrastructure-improvement efforts. Last month, after tariffs took effect on steel and aluminum from some countries, the organization warned that it foresees rising construction costs and possible project delays or cancellations due to the duties.

“Prices increased for many items in March, even before tariffs announced for steel, aluminum and many items imported from China have taken effect,” said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “Steel service centers and other suppliers are warning there is not enough capacity at U.S. mills or in the trucking industry to deliver orders on a timely basis. Thus, contractors are likely to experience still higher prices as well as delivery delays in coming months.”


Tagged categories: Aluminum; Construction; Economy; Government; President Trump; Steel

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