Last week, we discussed some of the effects President Trump’s steel tariffs are likely to have on American businesses — almost all negative. This week, we’ll take a look at the responses from American business leaders to what may be a devastating blow to their bottom lines, and consequently, their employees’ livelihoods.
Reaction from the American Business Community
The response from American businesses has been swift, strong and condemnatory in tone. From the construction and auto industries to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, almost all are in agreement that these new steel and aluminum tariffs will ultimately be a tax on Americans:
- “These tariffs will translate into higher costs for consumers and U.S. businesses that use these products, including home builders,” Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. “Given that home builders are already grappling with 20 percent tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and that the price of lumber and other key building materials are near record highs, this announcement by the president could not have come at a worse time. Tariffs hurt consumers and harm housing affordability.”
- “The Administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports threatens to drastically increase the prices of many building materials specified by architects,” Carl Elefante, president of the American Institute of Architects, said in a statement. “As creative problem solvers, architects rely on a variety of these materials to achieve functional and performance goals for their clients. Inflating the cost of materials will limit the range of options they can use while adhering to budgetary constraints for a building.”
- “These proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports couldn’t come at a worse time,” Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, said in a statement. “Auto sales have flattened in recent months, and manufacturers are not prepared to absorb a sharp increase in the cost to build cars and trucks in America. The burden of these tariffs, as always, will be passed on to the American consumer.”
- “The actions taken today are inconsistent with the administration’s goal of continuing the energy renaissance and building world-class infrastructure,” said Jack Gerard, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the industry.
- “About 2 million jobs depend on America’s beer industry. We urge the Department of Commerce and U.S. President Trump to consider the impact of trade restriction tariffs,” Felipe Dutra, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s chief financial officer, said on a call with analysts.
- “Make no mistake, this is a tax on American families,” Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “When costs of raw materials like steel and aluminum are artificially driven up, all Americans ultimately foot the bill in the form of higher prices for everything from canned goods to electronics and automobiles.
- Thomas Donohue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “We urge the administration to take this risk seriously and specifically to refrain from imposing new worldwide tariffs on steel and aluminum. These new tariffs would directly harm American manufacturers, provoke widespread retaliation from our trading partners, and leave virtually untouched the true problem of Chinese steel and aluminum overcapacity.”
- “Business Roundtable strongly disagrees with today’s announcement because it will hurt the U.S. economy and American companies, workers and consumers by raising prices and resulting in foreign retaliation against U.S. exporters,” Joshua Bolten, president of the influential Business Roundtable, said in a statement.
What’s Next for American Companies Affected by the Steel and Aluminum Tariffs?
The Brookings Institute analyzed the proposed tariffs, and concluded that “they are unlikely to achieve their intended goals of pressuring trade partners suspected of creating market distortions from subsidies and dumping. “Instead,” they continued, “(the tariffs) are increasing uncertainty over the coherence of America’s trade strategy and antagonizing its trade partners. At a minimum, these tariffs will disrupt those firms, industries, regions, and states that rely on steel and aluminum imports, which at this point is still a relatively small segment of U.S. trade. However, if trade partners respond with their own retaliatory tariffs on a broader set of export industries, exposure to the latest Trump trade shock will spread.”
We at EVS Metal agree with the Brookings Institute’s statement. “President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs are going to drive up prices across the board for our company, and, from speaking with our customers, are likely to affect them just as negatively,” Says Joe Amico, EVS’ co-founder. “We believe the tariffs are bad for America’s relationships with trade partners, bad for American companies and, ultimately, may be devastating for the American worker.”