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New Trump tariffs stoke fears for steel and port jobs in Pennsylvania

PortandTerminal.com, December 4, 2019

New tariffs on South American steel, along with the doubling down on European and Asian import taxes, have some Pennsylvanians worried that the rising costs imposed by the federal government will threaten steel and port jobs.

FARRELL, PA – On Monday President Trump’s announced new tariffs on Brazilian and Argentian steel, blaming a “massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers”. In response the President said, he will “restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries”.

That move will hurt steelmakers like NLMK in Pennsylvania though who import rough foreign steel that they process into higher-value finished products. When the steel feedstock they import costs more, they have to increase their prices for the higher quality steel that they sell. Those price increases have cost them customers.

Bob Miller, President of NLMK says that the company has already had to fork out $160 million in tariffs that it struggles to pass on to its customers

NLMK has reportedly already had to layoff 100 of its 430 steelworkers and cut 35 salaried office positions this week, citing higher import costs since the Trump administration slapped 25% tariffs on imports from Russia and other countries last year, the Sharon Herald reported. The company’s president, Bob Miller, told the paper his firm had paid more than $160 million in tariffs so it could keep buying steel.

Delaware River ports have also seen a drop in import cargoes as tariffs rise, port officials say. “We are seeing the effect on steel from Europe. The tonnage is down,” said Sean Mahoney, spokesman for the city-owned Philadelphia city ports.

READ: Port of LA: “Tariffs threaten millions of U.S. jobs”. Gene Seroka tells it like it is

“That 25% ad valorum tax, on everything from Irish whiskey to Spanish clementines, hurt us on ship calls coming into the port,” Mahoney added.

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