Washington — Plastics industry business groups pushed back hard against the Trump administration's May 31 decision to move forward with tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe, calling it "dangerous" trade policy that will raise prices and cost industry jobs.
"The Trump administration's decision today to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the [European Union] — America's strongest trading partners — will benefit America's trade rivals and cost American jobs, plain and simple," said Bill Carteaux, CEO of the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association.
"We urge President [Donald] Trump and his administration to reconsider this dangerous, disruptive approach to trade policy," he said, adding that the tariffs would particularly hit mold makers since much of the steel they use comes from the EU and can't be sourced in the United States.
"These tariffs could quite simply put these companies at risk of going out of business, all while increasing costs that will be felt throughout the domestic supply chain," Carteaux said. "American manufacturers need stable, consistent trade policies and should not have to suffer constraints due to a trade war."
Similarly, the head of the American Chemistry Council said the tariffs "have the potential to threaten U.S. economic security" and hurt planned chemical and plastics industry investments of nearly $200 billion, much of it enabled by shale gas feedstocks that are transforming the U.S. into a low-cost producer.
"Today's announcement to levy steel and aluminum tariffs against three of our closest allies and trading partners will disadvantage U.S. chemical manufacturing and put our country's manufacturing renaissance at risk," said ACC CEO Cal Dooley. "The unilateral move will also invite retaliation and threaten the viability of trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement."
Carteaux also expressed concern the tariffs against Canada and Mexico could "poison the well" in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.
ACC noted that the EU has already threatened to retaliate against $500 million in U.S. chemical exports.
The chemical and plastics resin sectors have been banking on shale gas leading to significant growth in exports, expanding its trade surplus from $33 billion last year to $73 billion in 2022, ACC estimates.