White House Hammers Down On Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Despite opposition from much of the domestic and global business and political worlds, last week President Trump signed significant tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Those tariffs—25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum—are set to take effect March 23. They contain an initial exemption for Canada and Mexico as the administration seeks broader trade concessions from both countries as it renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The tariffs are strongly opposed by NAFEM, which released a statement from its President Kevin Fink, CFSP, and President of Master-Bilt/Nor-Lake, Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group:

“NAFEM opposes President Trump’s plan to impose steep tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum. These tariffs will increase the costs of domestic and imported raw materials, putting foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers and our employees at risk. We will continue to work to end these tariffs as soon as possible and encourage the President to fulfill his commitment to protect and grow all U.S. manufacturing.”

Affordable access to global supply chains is essential for E&S manufacturers, as many types of steel and aluminum used in the foodservice’s industry’s products is not available domestically. Those companies that import steel and aluminum for their products will be adversely impacted under a plan that doesn’t affect imported, finished goods such as flatware and pizza pans, allowing foreign manufacturers to undercut products made in America.

In February, NAFEM and a coalition of 14 other steel-consuming associations sent a letter to the Trump administration opposing the potential tariffs. The coalition pointed out that the restrictions could make it cost-prohibitive for companies to continue manufacturing in the U.S., negatively impacting more jobs than those in the entire steel industry.

After the president’s initial announcement of his intentions, NAFEM issued a call to action to the entire E&S industry, including an advocacy toolkit of steel tariff information and talking points for industry members to use in contacting their U.S. senators and representatives.

NAFEM will continue to focus on the issue. Contact Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM’s vice president, regulatory & technical affairs, with any questions on the association’s efforts.

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