Trump’s tariffs risk jobs and profits in working-class areas electricity grid code


A Steelcase subsidiary, PolyVision, operates a plant in Okmulgee that uses a special type of steel from Japan to manufacture a durable glass-like surface for whiteboards and architectural purposes. PolyVision “cannot and will not be able to procure” from U.S. companies the cold-rolled steel it requires “in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality,” Steelcase said.

The tariffs — 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum — are designed to protect and rebuild the U.S. companies that manufacture the metals. The U.S. temporarily exempted several major trading partners, including the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

Economists Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman estimated last month that the tariffs would increase employment in the U.S. steel and aluminum industries by more than 26,000 jobs, but also lead to the loss of 495,000 other jobs throughout the rest of the American economy.

John Hritz, CEO of JSW Steel USA in Baytown, Texas, said his company is in lockstep with Trump’s approach. “We’re in favor of growing the steel industry in this country,” Hritz said. JSW Steel, owned by Indian conglomerate JSW Group, is embarking on a $500 million overhaul of the plant that it says will create hundreds of jobs.

The growth would be welcomed in Baytown, where unemployment is 9.8 percent, more than double the national rate. Baytown is located partly in Harris County, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won, and partly in Chambers County, which Trump handily won.

The future is much murkier for another Baytown steel business, Borusan Mannesmann Pipe. Without a waiver, Borusan may face tariffs of $25 million to $30 million annually if it imports steel tubing and casing from its parent company in Turkey, according to information the company provided to the AP.

Borusan said the Baytown production line would no longer be competitive and “jobs would be threatened” if it cannot import 135,000 metric tons of steel annually over the next two years. The pipes Borusan produces are used primarily as casing for oil and natural gas wells.

But if Commerce says yes, Borusan will be able to unlock a $25 million investment in the Baytown facility as it seeks to become a “100 percent domestic supplier,” according to the waiver request. An additional $50 million expansion in pipe fabrication capacity would follow, the company said, leading to as many as 170 new jobs.

Seneca Foods Corporation, the nation’s largest vegetable canner, said in its waiver application that it’s unclear, at best, if U.S. suppliers have the ability or willingness to expand their production in the long term to meet the company’s annual demand for tinplated steel.

A person with knowledge of Seneca’s situation said the company would face a $2.25 million duty if the Commerce Department doesn’t approve its waiver request for 11,000 metric tons of tinplate it already agreed to purchase from China. The material is to be delivered this year and next, according to the waiver request. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Seneca said it employs more than 400 people at can-making facilities in Wisconsin and Idaho and near its headquarters in New York’s Wayne County, where Trump bested Clinton. The company doesn’t warn layoffs are imminent if the waiver isn’t approved. Instead, the tariffs would likely come out of Seneca’s bottom line, the person said.