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Local steel and fabrication ready for tariffs

The tariffs impose a 25 percent tax on steel and 10 percent on aluminum

Fulton, Illinois - President Trump moves forward imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

That coming Thursday after facing opposition from him his party but receiving praise from the U.S. steel and aluminum industries.

Locally, some in those industries are giving their support to the move. They said imports have been hurting jobs processing the metals in the United States.

The tariffs will impose a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

The order will take effect in 15 days.

At J.T. Cullen, they're hoping the tariffs will help them in relying less on imports.

It's after seeing the supply of domestically processed metals drops.

J.T. Cullen President Eric Johnson said, "I think it's something, in this case, needed to be done." 

At J.T. Cullen Company, their machine and fabrication facility welds together products small and large.
To make all these pieces come together, it requires a lot of metal.

Johnson said, "Mainly carbon steel, but we get into aluminum and the exotic stainless."

 Company President Eric Johnson said that raw metal is becoming harder to come by in the states.

Johnson said, "Especially our steel mill equipment, we like to use domestic pipe, and today, we can't get any."

That has them looking to places like Brazil, Canada and Europe.

For the United Steelworkers union, they said the tariffs have been a long time coming and are a way to bring back jobs.

United Steelworkers Rapid Response Coordinator Bob Ryan said, "Twenty-five years ago, United States had 23 smelters [for processing ore] operating in the United States. Now we have five, and only two are running at full capacity."

Johnson's also hoping the tariffs can help turn around the growing scarcity of the mills producing the metals.

Johnson said, "That affects everyone, and in the long run, we can't afford to lose the mills."

But since the tariffs were announced last week, it's already had another effect. 
Johnson says the prices of steel soared about 80 percent or more.

Johnson said, "We're pretty fortunate in a way because the projects we currently have, we've already purchased materials."

Now, they're working with customers on future projects to make sure wiggle room is there to account for higher material costs, and that's where Johnson says it could have an impact.

Johnson said,"It isn't like it's going to be anything we haven't gone through before, but it will be a little tough, especially for some of our smaller customers."

Johnson said some of their projects require the metals to be domestic and that's been added challenge.

United Steelworkers said it might not have as much impact in the Quad Cities at places like Arconic because they're running at capacity, but they're hoping it will bring back jobs to areas that saw them cut.

 

Lawmakers are also responding to President Trump's move: 

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in a statement, “I am urging the President to reconsider this proposal, not just for its impacts on Iowa, but for the negative consequences this proposal could have on rural communities throughout the nation, America’s farmers, and our national security."

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) released a statement and said, "I am alarmed by the President’s haphazard announcement and reckless threats about trade wars, which are causing chaos and confusion in other American industries while creating barriers for key allies and trading partners who play by the rules. It’s not clear that these broad tariffs will ultimately benefit the American workforce, economy or consumers in the long run."

In a statement from Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), he said, "President Trump wants to put China on notice for their abusive trade practices that hurt American workers and industries. I support that. The sweeping tariffs announced today are like dropping a bomb on a flea. Launching an all-out trade war will alienate the allies we need to actually solve the problem of steel dumping, and could have huge unintended consequences for American manufacturers who depend on imported materials."


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