The plan was to release the details of the steel tariff plan at the end of June.
It is now mid-August and the plan is still not in place. As expected, this
complex issue is not easily resolved, and in the last several months there
have been comments from a variety of affected industries. The plain fact
is that there are far more consumers of steel than there are producers, and
they have all been making their opinions known.
The motivation for the tariffs is a belated attempt to rescue the domestic
steel business. Over the last few decades, the U.S. steel industry has been
fading and steel consumers have been buying cheaper imported steel. Even
if the foreign steel was not always cheaper, it was available, and the U.S.
producers could not always keep pace. The case for the steel tariff has
been made around national security as the U.S. doesn’t want to
be dependent on foreign sources. Given that most of the steel coming
into the U.S. is from allies such as Canada, Mexico, and Japan, this is a
What is likely to happen now? It would be an embarrassment to abandon
the whole effort, and Trump seems unwilling to take that step. Those that do
not want to see major shortages of steel and price hikes are pushing hard for
exemptions, and they have gotten some already. The steel-using sectors are
making their case aggressively and suggesting they will lose jobs. The best
estimate is that a final decision will not come for months, and the end result
will be far less comprehensive than was originally outlined, with perhaps a
sliding scale of tariffs.
Meanwhile, there are discussions regarding what the steel sector in the U.S.
really needs in order to be competitive in the future. The strict environmental
rules that prohibit scrapping of ships in the U.S. would be a good place to
start, as most of the U.S.’s current ship work is done in other nations, such
as China. That has included the scrapping of U.S. warships.
Would you like more economic insights twice a month, delivered
straight to your e-mail? FMA members get Dr. Kuehl’s Fabrinomics®
e-news as one of their benefits. Join as an individual or a company
member at fmanet.org/join or call 888-394-4362. To ask a question
of Dr. Kuehl, send it to Fabrinomics@fmanet.org.
Dr. Chris Kuehl
Author of Fabrinomics
The Steel Story
By Dr. Chris Kuehl
Years of Industry
FMA is seeking applicants for The
FABRICATOR®’s Industry Award 2018.
This prestigious award recognizes a
company or individual in the metal
forming and fabricating industry that
has successfully improved operations,
attained business growth, and
contributed to their communities.
The winning company will appear on the cover of the
February 2018 issue of The FABRICATOR and will be featured in a story
appearing in the same issue. Plus, a company representative will receive
complimentary registration, travel, and hotel accommodations to accept the
award at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit taking place March 7-9,
2018, at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
This is a great opportunity to be recognized in the industry and increase your
business prospects. Applying is easy ― visit fmanet.org/industry-awards
or call 888-394-4362 for more information.
Award entries must be received by Oct. 31, 2017, at 5 p.m. CDT.
Mayville Engineering Co. (MEC)
De Wys Manufacturing Inc.
A & E Custom Manufacturing
Airtronics Metal Products Inc.
Clark Metal Products
General Metal Works (GenMet) Corp.
Seconn Fabrication LLC
Apply today for your chance to be an Industry Award winner!
MARCH 7-9, 2018
Talking Stick Resort | Scottsdale, Ariz.
Mark Your Calendar