Taking its toll? Don’t blame tariffs, says steel boss


Fears are growing that US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will contribute to an economic downturn this year. According to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook’s survey, almost half (48.6%) of US chief financial officers expect a recession in 2019. Even more felt the recession will be in full effect by next year and tariffs were cited as one of the reasons behind it.

In December, President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day pause (until March 2) in their nations’ trade war, with tariffs not rising during this period as the world’s two biggest economies try to make a deal. The US tariffs against China were authorized under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and foreign steel has been subjected to 25% tariffs in the US since March. It has led to higher profits for domestic steel producing companies who in turn raised their prices by as much, or more, which has driven up costs for US manufacturers.

Manufacturers of steel gas tanks, tube trailers, cylinders and equipment are watching the situation closely as the price of milled steel products rose roughly 25% in 2018. The steel and aluminum tariffs have benefited producers, but they are not such good news for steel and aluminum users.

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