US steel, aluminium tariffs risk retaliation from allies – ACC

31 May 2018 21:07 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) on Thursday warned of the potentially damaging economic effects that will result from steel and aluminium tariffs, which US President Donald Trump recently augmented to include Canada, Mexico and the EU.

This worker is handling reinforcing steel. Photo by Stefan Kiefer/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

“Today’s announcement to levy steel and aluminium tariffs against three of our closest allies and trading partners will disadvantage US chemical manufacturing and put our country’s manufacturing renaissance at risk," ACC CEO Cal Dooley said. Dooley warned the decision will also invite retaliation, which will in turn threaten the viability of trade agreements like NAFTA.

The 25% steel tariff and the 10% aluminium tariff are effective at midnight Eastern time (04:00 GMT on Friday).

"When these tariffs go into effect on Friday, trains arriving to the US from Mexico and Canada will be carrying metals that are 25% more expensive than when they left the station just a few days ago," Dooley said.

Trump first signed tariff proclamations in March, initially excluding Canada and Mexico, two of the largest sources of imported steel to the US.

The chemical industry has repeatedly criticised the move, stating that steel and aluminium tariffs would increase costs for infrastructure projects, ultimately making US chemical products less competitive globally.

"The increased costs could force the delay, abandonment, or even cancellation of billions of dollars of chemical production facility investments that have been announced over the last ten years," Dooley said. "Downstream industries like the automotive sector, which relies on both chemicals and metals, will feel the crushing impact of the tariffs as well."

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said that the tariffs could threaten production of natural gas liquids (NGLs) as well as oil and natural gas.

Industry groups including the ACC, the API and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) have requested exemptions from the tariffs.

(Updates in first, second, fourth, seventh paragraphs with ACC response and eighth paragraph with API response)

By David Haydon