Coalition calls for immediate end to US Section 232 tariffs

The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (Cammu), along with more than 300 US manufacturing businesses, asked US President Joe Biden to immediately terminate the Section 232 steel and aluminium tariffs in a letter dated Thursday May 6.

“It is businesses manufacturing in America such as ours who pay the tariffs on imports, and it is our businesses and employees who suffer when our product cannot compete with overseas manufacturers because the US is an island of high steel and aluminium prices,” the letter stated. “Producers today simply cannot meet demand, and the tariffs create a tax that only manufacturers in the US must pay.”

Notably, Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US reached an all-time high of $75.43 per hundredweight on Friday April 30; the index was last calculated at $74.09 per cwt ($1,481.80 per short ton) on Wednesday May 5.

Fastmarkets’ aluminium P1020A premium, ddp Midwest US hit its own all-time high of 26-27 cents per lb on April 30, up by 8.16% from its previous record of 24-25 cents per lb and up by 60.61% from 16-17 cents per lb at the start of March.

Those companies are “currently struggling to meet demand and stay competitive due to supply shortages, long lead times and artificially high prices for their key inputs,” Cammu noted. Indeed, the letter pointed to lead times that have stretched to 16-20 weeks, or even longer, compared with typical delivery times of four to six weeks.

“On some products, American businesses pay 40% more for similar steel compared to their European counterparts – an unsustainable situation for any US employer,” according to the letter.

Therefore, a continuation of the Section 232 tariffs would put a drag on manufacturing companies and stifle growth while the US economy attempts to recover from Covid-19 pandemic, Cammu claimed.

“Without termination of the tariffs, this situation will worsen if Washington moves forward with an infrastructure bill to invest in America, as these projects will create more strain on domestic steel and aluminium supplies, causing delays in construction and risking manufacturing jobs,” the letter said. 

The coalition has previously called for the termination of the trade measures, and argued in March that US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was mistaken about the success of the Section 232 steel and aluminium tariffs.

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