US industries plead for end to metals tariffs

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
WASHINGTON
Published 25.01.2019 00:07

Dozens of U.S. industry groups sent a letter to the Trump administration on Wednesday pleading for an end the economic pain caused by steep U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

In addition to increased costs for any company importing metal products or components, many other industries are suffering from the retaliation imposed by countries like China and Mexico.

"The continued application of metal tariffs means ongoing economic hardship for U.S. companies that depend on imported steel and aluminum," said the letter, signed by four dozen industry groups.

And while they applauded the newly-agreed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), they warned that for "many farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue to them from the USMCA."

China fired back at the United States with tariffs on key U.S. exports after President Donald Trump imposed the 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on March 2018.

Mexico and Canada retaliated after their initial exemption expired and the metals tariffs began to bite in June of last year.

Despite the agreement on a new free trade deal, Trump has not made clear whether the steel and aluminum duties would be removed as part of the USMCA.

"We urge you to take all necessary steps to resolve this matter so that zero-tariff North American trade can resume, and we can turn our attention to working with you to gain prompt Congressional approval of the USMCA," the letter stated.

The letter was signed by groups representing a large swath of the economy, including the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Egg Farmers and the National Restaurant Association.

Rufus Yerxa, head of the 300-company National Foreign Trade Council, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) the letter was the first step in a campaign to push for an end to the tariffs as Congress considers approval of the USMCA which is "going to need vigorous support."

He said Trump was "picking winners and losers to only favor one industry," while the damage done far outweighed the benefits to the steel industry.

And he warned that for smaller companies or those reliant on exports "this might be a matter of life or death."

Jim Monroe at the National Pork Producers Council cited a study showing Mexican retaliation was costing U.S. pork producers $1.5 billion annually, while the impact of China's actions is $1 billion.

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