Retailers and food manufacturers believe that the lifting of tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum will help get the successor to NAFTA, USMCA, enacted by Congress
President Donald Trump’s decision to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico was greeted with approval by the retail and food industries, which feared that such tariffs would drive up consumer prices and hurt business.
"We applaud the administration for reaching a resolution with Canada and Mexico on the steel and aluminum tariffs," noted Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association. "Lifting these tariffs will support consumer confidence and provide much-needed relief for American businesses large and small. Congress should build on this progress by passing [NAFTA successor the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)] and modernizing the rules for North American trade.”
Hun Quach, VP of international trade at Arlington, Va.-based Retail Industry Leaders Association, said that the trade group was “grateful that President Trump recognized tariffs are not the answer. Lifting tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico will help retailers continue to reinvest in their stores and restore certainty for American businesses. Canada and Mexico are vital trading partners, and today’s announcement takes one step closer to getting USMCA enacted. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration to reach solutions that remove tariffs and achieve a proactive trade agenda that supports retailers and the American families we serve every day.”
Organizations representing food producers, chief among them the Arlington, Va.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), were also heartened by the president’s decision.
"Imposing unnecessary tariffs on two of our closest trading partners is bad policy, and we are encouraged by President Trump's decision to remove these tariffs on steel and aluminum imports," noted GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. "Mexico and Canada together account for 30 percent of our country’s steel imports and nearly 40 percent of our aluminum imports. Many of the essential products American consumers depend on every day require aluminum and steel – from aerosol cans to candy wrappers – and these tariffs create a burden that hurts manufacturers and consumers alike. One CPG company noted that the costs of their canned goods increased 25 percent overnight after these tariffs were announced. We hope that today’s announcement will lead to timely consideration and resolution of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by groups representing particular sectors of the food industry, including the Washington, D.C.-based American Bakers Association (ABA).
Noted Robb MacKie, the association’s president and CEO: “ABA is relieved to hear of the Administration’s decision to remove the 232 tariffs on Canada and Mexico. Bakers, like all manufacturers, are highly sensitive to price increases for the steel used in our equipment.”
MacKie also pointed out that lifting the tariffs would help with the passage of USMCA.
The president’s reversal regarding tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum arrives as U.S. businesses have struggled to deal with higher input costs stemming from trade tensions with the two countries.
In other tariff news, U.S. farmers in particular are grappling with the effects of higher tariffs on a range of Chinese goods, which has led to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products imposed by China, with mega-retailer Walmart warning that its prices would rise as a result of this escalating trade war.