First round of aluminum sheet tariffs to hit Tuesday

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Manufacturers of aluminum fishing boats and pontoons, which account for 43 percent of the U.S. boatbuilding market, could see prices rise next week.

Manufacturers of aluminum fishing boats and pontoons, which account for 43 percent of the U.S. boatbuilding market, could see prices rise next week.

The Department of Commerce will announce tariffs on common alloy aluminum sheet from China on Tuesday, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association still expects the result of many combined tariffs targeting Chinese aluminum to be in excess of 60 percent.

The tariff to be announced next week is the result of the countervailing investigation initiated by the Commerce Department to determine whether China is unfairly subsidizing its aluminum sheet industry.

A separate anti-dumping investigation will determine whether China is dumping aluminum sheet. Both practices would allow the nation to sell aluminum sheet to the United States at low prices.

It’s the first time in three decades that the Department of Commerce has initiated such an investigation; typically, one is launched when an industry files a compliant.

Though China is the largest supplier of aluminum sheet to the United States, most U.S. boat manufacturers source their aluminum sheet in America, said NMMA legal and federal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros. There isn’t enough supply, however, to meet demand, so smaller manufacturers sometimes source outside of the United States.

Those duties would be on top of the 10 percent tariff President Trump is imposing on aluminum from outside the United States. Though he has temporarily exempted some countries and the European Union, that exemption ends on May 1, Vasilaros told Trade Only Today.

The European Union said last month it would impose a variety of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports in response to the 25 percent duty on steel, and included recreational boats on its list of targets. It has not yet issued a response to the aluminum duties.

The NMMA has condemned the tariffs on aluminum and aluminum sheet, saying that despite the fact that most U.S. boat builders source domestically, the tariffs could spark a trade war, result in less supply than necessary to meet demand for the growing pontoon and aluminum fishing boat segments, and drive up the cost of all aluminum.

“With 43 percent of boats sold last year being aluminum based, 22,000 marine jobs and $3 billion dollars in sales, we simply cannot stand by as a critical raw material faces increase costs and supply shortages,” Vasilaros told Trade Only in March.

The association has launched a grassroots campaign in an effort to get Congress to reconsider the worldwide tariffs that it says “will have sweeping impacts on 35,000 recreational boating businesses.”


Sales stagnate in March

Overall boat sales in March were slightly lower compared to last year and year-over-year growth was down by just over 1 percent, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., data that was gathered for 30 states.