Pressure is mounting on the Trump administration to drop Section 233 tariffs on imported aluminium and steel from Canada and Mexico prior to next week’s planned execution of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the new three-country trade deal, as evidenced by an open letter sent this week to U.S. Trade Representative and signed by 37 American industry groups.
The letter makes several points against the tariffs, which were enacted earlier this year after a year-long investigation by the Commerce Department.
Noting that the tariffs run counter to the goals of the upcoming new free trade agreement, it describes the harm already inflicted upon American manufacturers, consumers and workers.
Tariffs are taxes, both those imposed by the Administration and those our trading partners apply. In the end, they will only hurt our long-term economic growth and competitiveness, reduce our overall output of goods and services, negate the benefits of tax reform and raise costs for American businesses and families throughout all 50 states.
In addition, the letter argues that continued imposition of the Section 232 tariffs will likely act as a stumbling-block to Congressional approval, as the tariffs have generated substantial ill will among the three governments. The letter points out the billions in retaliatory tariffs imposed upon United States goods in response to the Section 232 measures, and the concerns raised by several members of Congress regarding the two-front trade battle the tariffs have engendered.
“We recognize that there are significant problems with overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sector caused mainly by Chinese subsidies and state-owned activities,” the letter concluded. “We strongly support appropriate measures to deal with this problem more effectively, including continued application of our unfair trade laws to Chinese exports and negotiation of global arrangements to deal with overcapacity. However, imposition of national security restrictions on our North American partners should not be part of that solution.”