U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) Thursday shared feedback from Hoosier businesses affected by steel and aluminum tariffs at a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the impact of tariffs on the U.S. economy and jobs.
“Historic tax cuts and regulatory reforms have revived America’s economy, but I am constantly hearing from businesses in northern Indiana that steel and aluminum tariffs are driving up costs and making it more difficult for them to grow and create jobs,” Congresswoman Walorski said after the hearing. “The administration has taken steps to narrow these tariffs to better target unfair trade, but more must be done to protect businesses and jobs here at home. I will continue listening to Hoosier manufacturers, farmers, and workers and making sure their voices are heard so we can keep our economic momentum going.”
Video of Walorski sharing local businesses’ feedback at the hearing is available here. She read the following quotes from Hoosier job creators in a wide range of industries:
- “[We’ve seen] a 50% increase [in the price of steel], mostly since the tariffs were announced. Additionally…there is a shortage of steel. We are furloughing the production line in [one facility] today and will probably have to furlough some of the guys in [our main facility] later in the week due to lack of availability of material. We have raised prices to our customers but because [our product is] a low margin item – the combination of the increase and the lack of availability is affecting sales.”
- “We cannot switch to a U.S. source…and it would take 1 to 2 years for us to get approval from our…customers if there was a U.S. source. We will continue to import steel…and will pay the duties…So far we have incurred about $15,000 in tariff costs with a potential of another $240,000 based upon the orders we have already booked with [our] Japanese steel supplier…We are moving forward with our Exclusion Requests…So far the cost has been close to 100 hours to complete these exemption forms along with some legal costs for review and advice.”
- “We have rolling shortages of steel and we are on allocation [from our supplier in Utah]… Prices had already gone up 25% and 30% respectively [on aluminum and steel] because of speculation. Now we are seeing a trend past 30-35% each. Of course I am livid.”
- “We observed steel prices starting to move up in early 2017 on just the talk of potential steel tariffs and a sharp escalation in steel prices in the last 3 months as the tariffs started to become a reality. This has resulted in a 15% to 29% increase in the cost of our steel. To put this in perspective, our increase in steel cost is larger than the entire cost of providing health insurance to our workforce.”
- “We are the sole manufacturer left in the United States that manufactures this type of product. Our competitors import all or most of their finished product from either Mexico, China, Vietnam, etc, therefore avoiding any impact of this tariff…The bottom line is this, if you raise our steel and aluminum prices, our prices will have to increase in order to cover the cost. Our foreign competitors will not be affected…We currently purchase all our steel and aluminum from domestic sources.”
- “We are in the process of trying to build a 147,000 square foot warehouse…[The company building the warehouse] gets their steel from Canada, a country exempted from the steel tariff. However, we are unable to get a firm quote even out of Canada, because prices are beginning to rise there with so much demand shifted to Canada…It is not on hold, we have to build it so we are at the mercy of a volatile market.”
- “When purchasing raw materials, we give preference to domestic steel mills wherever possible. We enjoy long outstanding relationships with many domestic mills. We want them to thrive…The actual dynamics of the entire metalworking market have evolved in the last 40 years…In some cases, we find that domestic mills cannot meet the quality standards required by our customers; or they cannot meet the quality standards at a competitive cost. In those cases, we will buy foreign material…Why put a tariff on these items?”
Congresswoman Walorski has worked to minimize the harmful impact of the steel and aluminum tariffs that recently took effect. After Walorski led 15 of her Ways and Means colleagues in sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging retroactive relief for companies that successfully petition for product exclusions from the tariffs, President Trump signed an order ensuring tariffs paid while a product exclusion request is pending will be returned if the exclusion is granted.
Walorski also recently pressed U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer on the administration’s response to threats of retaliatory tariffs that could harm American farmers, manufacturers, and other small businesses. She called on the administration to consider the impact retaliatory measures could have on small businesses and family farmers in Indiana.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.