Grand Rapids, Mich. — The American Mold Builders Association successfully fought to replace tariffs on Chinese imports and is preparing for another political battle.
U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to lift some or all of the trade provisions, which include Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on certain steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum as well as Section 301 tariffs of 25 percent on thousands of products imported from China since July 2018.
AMBA members filed 60 of the 1,497 comments made to the U.S. Trade Representative, which is reviewing the issue, but more action will be needed this summer related to exclusions, according to AMBA lobbyist Omar Nashashibi, a founding partner at Franklin Partnership LLC, a bipartisan government relations and lobbying firm based in Washington.
Nashashibi spoke at AMBA's annual conference, held May 10-12 in Grand Rapids.
"The U.S. government could, with a stroke of a pen, remove all those tariffs and allow the flood to come in," Nashashibi said. "What we heard from you all is that the molds, dies and tooling is already underpriced by China probably 40-60 percent. So, 25 percent doesn't even get you whole, but it does help."
The timeline will unfold in a couple of stages with an announcement on the exclusion process coming in August or September.
"We're hearing from around town in D.C. that by the end of the year, likely in December, they will have a firm policy in place for exclusions, for which products have tariffs lifted," Nashashibi said. "If they were to lift the tariffs of 25 percent that are protecting many of your businesses now, it wouldn't be overnight. They'd give you a few months and likely would align it with Jan. 1, 2024. We're doing everything we can to prevent that."
AMBA members should be ready to contact federal officials again.
"This summer, we might look at a pressure campaign. Maybe in the September time frame or so when Congress comes back to really mobilize some folks out there with regard to making sure the tariffs remain in place. This is our top priority," Nashashibi said.
He and his staff have been talking with the White House.
"I think a lot of it will come down to what politics align and where are the pressure points in the economy at the time Biden makes a decision," Nashashibi said. "From our understanding, he was ready to go last July. Once he went to Taiwan, things got more complicated, and he put off a final decision."