Coalition sounds alarm on harmful tariff proposal
The Consumer Brands Association spearheaded a coalition of 28 leading domestic manufacturers, food retailers and agricultural stakeholders concerned that proposed tariffs on tin mill steel imports are not only unwarranted but could imperil U.S. manufacturing jobs and raise consumer prices. In a letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the coalition called for a rigorous analysis of all the facts in the case, which should underscore a finding of no injury to the domestic petitioner and justify zero tariffs.
The letter is in response to a petition submitted to the ITC by steel manufacturer Cleveland-Cliffs that seeks to enforce tariffs of up to 300% on tin mill steel imports from eight countries. Tin mill steel is the primary material used in the production of cans for everyday canned goods, from soup to vegetables to sunscreen. A preliminary decision from the ITC released earlier this year shows zero evidence of less-than-fair-market-value steel coming from five countries and extremely low preliminary duty rates on two countries, confirming the lack of merit to Cleveland-Cliffs’ claims.
A recent study found that the proposed tariffs would kneecap the makers of America’s favorite household products, resulting in nearly 40,000 lost domestic manufacturing jobs. Another study found that the proposed tariffs will increase the cost of canned goods by up to 58 cents per product.
“The ubiquitous nature of tin mill steel products underscores the importance of conducting this investigation to the utmost level of scrutiny. Even marginal tariff duty rates could lead to substantial impacts on domestic can and consumer product manufacturers, negatively impacting their ability to compete with foreign imports of finished cans and consumer products. That is because the reason for subject tin mill imports is not cost, but the quantity and quality specifications required of downstream tin mill product users,” the coalition said.
The coalition cautions that domestic steel producers can only meet about 50% of the tinplate steel demand from U.S. can manufacturers and emphasizes that numerous can-making requirements necessitate the use of steel from international partners.
“Certain types and widths of steel required by U.S. can manufacturers, including two-piece can steel, are not available in sufficient commercial quantities from domestic suppliers. To meet demand, can manufacturers and their customers … have procured imported tin mill products from allied countries like Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom,” the coalition said.
“It is evident that the proposed tariffs would result in serious injury to American consumers and manufacturers in the form of lost jobs and higher prices at the grocery store. We, the makers of America’s favorite household products, urge the ITC and the Department of Commerce to follow the facts and reject this dangerous proposal,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of Consumer Brands.
Commerce is expected to issue its final determination of duty rates on January 4, the same day as the ITC’s hearing on the case. The final assessment is expected shortly thereafter, concluding a case that has drawn scrutiny from U.S. manufacturers, agricultural stakeholders and consumer groups.