Ohio Manufacturers Split On Trump's Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Mar 2, 2018

Ohio manufacturers are giving mixed responses to tariffs that President Trump says he’ll place on imported steel and aluminum.

Trump said on Thursday that he’ll move to slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. The statement was welcome news for Ohio’s metal-making industry.

The CEO of Nucor Corp., a North Carolina-based company that operates a steel mill in Marion, credited Trump for being a strong advocate for “holding other countries accountable for violating free market principles.”

“We are pleased that the president has decided to use all the tools at his disposal to send a clear message to foreign competitors that dumping steel products into our market will no longer be tolerated,” read the statement from John Ferriola, who was among the industry leaders joining the President at the White House on Thursday.

Many industry executives accuse China of tainting the free market; Ferriola and others said the country dumps excess steel into U.S. markets at a financial loss in order to push down American profits.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown joined Nucor and Canton-based TimkenSteel in celebrating the planned tariffs.

“This welcome action is long overdue for shuttered steel plants across Ohio and steelworkers who live in fear that their jobs will be the next victims of Chinese cheating,” Brown said in a statement.

It’s a different story for companies that buy steel to make their products. Manufacturers in Ohio’s large automotive- and appliance-building industries have a lot to lose if foreign steel and aluminum prices suddenly rise.

“There are a lot of companies who will watch this development with great interest,” said Ryan Augsburger, a public policy analyst with the Ohio Manufacturers Association. “If costs go up, then they will have to push their costs on."

In a statement to the Columbus Dispatch, a Honda of America spokesman said the tariffs would put “an unnecessary financial burden” for their customers.

Whirlpool, which builds clothes dryers and refrigerators in Marion and washers at a plant in Clyde, did not immediately respond to requests for comments. The appliance maker said it would add 200 jobs at the Clyde plant after Trump announced plans for tariffs on large residential washing machines.

In response to the President's announcement, the president of the European Commission said EU countries would retaliate if Trump follows through with the tariffs.