A diverse, ad hoc coalition of more than 45 groups representing many sectors of the U.S. economy joined the National Pork Producers Council in calling for an end to U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel imports so that America can take advantage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The Trump administration on June 1, 2018, imposed a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% duty on aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. Both countries subsequently retaliated against a host of U.S. products.
In a letter sent today to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the business and agricultural organizations urged the administration to lift the metals tariffs so that Canada and Mexico will rescind their duties on U.S. goods. The groups want the metals dispute resolved soon so they can turn their undivided attention to generating congressional support for the USMCA, negotiations on which were concluded last fall.
“For many producers,” said the groups in their letter, “the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel and aluminum dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue to them from the USMCA. We urge the administration to work with the Canadians and Mexicans on a prompt resolution of the metals issue.”
Said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio, “The metals tariffs are undermining the ability of the private sector to lobby for passage of the USMCA deal. For many sectors, the duties are a hair-on-fire issue that is draining resources that otherwise would be focused on passage of the USMCA.”
Farmers and food companies have been particularly hard hit by the Canadian and Mexican retaliation. Mexico’s 20 percent punitive tariff on U.S. pork, for example, has inflicted severe financial harm on America’s pork producers. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Mexican tariff is costing producers $12 per animal, meaning industrywide losses of $1.5 billion annually.
The metals tariffs also are hurting U.S. manufacturers that depend on steel and aluminum imports, increasing costs for American industrial and consumer goods.