Beer brewers, heavy machinery giants, car manufacturers, farmers, defense industries and stock brokers came out in a united front Thursday against President Trump’s plan to impose steep import tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The President announced during a White House meet with industry executives that he plans to levy 25% import penalties on steel and 10% on aluminum, a policy catering to the President’s economically nationalist base, from which his “America First” agenda spawned.
“What’s been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful,” Trump said during the sit-down. “You will have protection for the first time in a long while and you’re going to regrow your industries.”
Just about everyone disagreed.
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“President Trump’s announcement today that he plans to impose a 10% tariff on aluminum imports will increase the cost of aluminum in the United States and endanger American jobs in the beer industry and throughout the supply chain,” Jim McGreevy, the CEO of the Beer Institute, said in a statement.
The Washington, D.C.-based lobby group represents the country’s $350 billion beer industry, lobbying for more than 5,000 brewers and 2.2 million workers.
During the White House meet, Trump argued that he’s implementing the tariffs out of national security concerns, repeatedly accusing China of driving down prices and hurting American producers.
But McGreevy refuted Trump’s argument. “The largest importer of aluminum to the United States is Canada one of American’s strongest allies,” he said.
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McGreevy’s sentiment was echoed by MillerCoors, the country’s second largest beer maker.
“American workers and American consumers will suffer as a result of this misguided tariff,” the beverage giant said in a statement.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a heavy equipment trade group representing Caterpillar and John Deere among others, turned Trump’s own words against him.
“President Trump shouldn’t undercut his own goal of helping U.S. manufacturers ‘win’ again by imposing counterproductive tariffs on steel imports,” the association’s president, Dennis Slater, said in a statement, adding that the tariffs will “raise costs for equipment manufacturers in the United States and undermine our industry’s global competitiveness.”
Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports
Mirroring McGreevy’s remarks, Slater pointed out that the U.S. imports most of its steel from Canada.
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“The Administration’s decision to impose substantial steel and aluminum tariffs will adversely impact automakers, the automotive supplier community and consumers,” the Japanese car maker said in a statement, adding “this would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America.”
Others feared that Trump’s announcement will prompt other countries to enact their own tariffs on American companies, which would hurt U.S. exporters and dent the overall economy.
The stock market, meanwhile, fell sharply in light of Trump’s announcement, with the Dow Jones plummeting 420 points, or 1.7%. The Standard & Poor’s benchmark 500 index followed suit, tumbling 36 points, or 1.3%.
Even some businesses that don’t necessarily use or benefit from steel and aluminum imports took issue with Trump’s new tariffs.
“This announcement invites retaliation that we are deeply concerned will hurt American farmers,” Brian Kuehl, the executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said in a statement.
Kuehl speculated that the tariffs will spark a “tit-for-tat” on trade with other countries, putting American agricultural exporters and other industries in the crosshairs.
“Everyone agrees we need to hold our trading partners accountable, but taking unilateral action to raise tariffs carries harmful unintended consequences,” Kuehl said.
With News Wire Services