Detail

Trump Administration Imposes Tariffs on Imported Steel and Aluminum from European Union, Canada and Mexico

  • May 13, 2019

The Trump Administration today imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, sparking rebukes from congressional Republicans and foreign policymakers, who have threatened retaliatory measures.

The Trump Administration imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, sparking rebukes from congressional Republicans and foreign policymakers, who have threatened retaliatory measures.

  • When the steel and aluminum tariffs were initially proposed in March, an exemption was granted until June 1 for certain trade partners, including Canada, Mexico and the EU – yet negotiations about the Administration's domestic production concerns were not resolved by today's deadline. 
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer noted the commercial real estate industry's concerns, stating "For every job in the steel production industry, there are more than 50 jobs in the US construction industry (140,000 vs. 7-10 million). New tariffs on construction materials like steel could have the unfortunate, unintended side effect of raising construction costs and reducing jobs in real estate development." (Roundtable Weekly, March 9) 
  • According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel last year, a 15% increase from 2016.  The International Trade Administration reports the largest supplier of steel to the U.S. is Canada, accounting for 77% – while Mexican steel accounts for about 9% of U.S. imports. USA Today reports that the majority of that metal is used in construction, auto manufacturing and appliances. (USA Today, May 31) 
  • House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today stated, "These tariffs are hitting the wrong target. When it comes to unfairly traded steel and aluminum, Mexico, Canada, and Europe are not the problem-China is. This action puts American workers and families at risk, whose jobs depend on fairly traded products from these important trading partners," Brady said. 
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said he would introduce legislation next week to curtail the president's powers to impose tariffs for reasons of national security. (The Hill, June 1) 
  • "You don't treat allies the same way you treat opponents," Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) stated.  "Blanket protectionism is a big part of why we had a Great Depression. 'Make America Great Again' shouldn't mean 'Make America 1929 Again.'"  

In the Federal Reserve's latest "Beige Book" about economic conditions, positive growth is tempered by widespread concerns about trade tariffs. The report summary also notes that steel and aluminum prices rose, "sometimes dramatically" due to recent duties imposed by the Trump Administration. (Roundtable Weekly, March 9)  The Beige Book is one of the first official reports showing the economic impact of the new tariffs on domestic business. (Wall Street Journal, April 18)