NMMA focusing on aluminum sheet duties at Miami show

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association will use the Progressive International Miami Boat Show as a venue to rally boatbuilders and stakeholders to contact members of Congress about a potential 60-percent duty on aluminum sheet from China.

That could affect overall supply and pricing of the raw material, even for those who don’t source from abroad, the NMMA says.

The NMMA is encouraging members to attend a meeting on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27-28 with the U.S. Department of Commerce and lawmakers to explain how the duty could hurt boat and trailer manufacturers because U.S. production can’t meet demand.

“We’re definitely hearing from a lot of manufacturers who have concerns, both from those who source domestically, as well as those who source from foreign suppliers,” NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros told Trade Only Today. “This is a huge segment of our overall industry.”

About 43 percent of the boat market is comprised of aluminum pontoons and aluminum fishing boats.

Those that do source from foreign suppliers are getting aluminum sheet from several countries, including Korea and Greece, Vasilaros said.

“They have to look to other sources because U.S. mills are at capacity,” Vasilaros said. “It’s not always because foreign countries offer cheaper prices, but they have to go elsewhere to obtain the product — particularly smaller manufacturers. They have to work through distributors and get the material where they can.”

Even manufacturers that source the product domestically are facing roadblocks already.

“What we’re hearing is, contracts have been delayed,” Vasilaros said. “So as manufacturers are looking to build out supply a year or two in the future, U.S. mills are not willing to sign contracts now because they’re waiting to see what happens with this duty.”

Sheet aluminum could be facing a more than 60-percent price increase because of “an unprecedented move” the U.S. Department of Commerce made in November.

Boat and component manufacturers that use aluminum alloy sheet metal are likely to see prices rise as early as February after the U.S. International Trade Commission found that imports of the product from China harm American producers.

“I don’t think, on any realistic level, there’s any chance that [the Commerce Department] will not impose duties,” said Jeff Grimson, a lawyer at Mowry & Grimson, during a webinar last month.

Boat builders and trailer manufacturers are invited to meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill Feb. 27 to discuss the potential impact of a 60-percent increase in aluminum sheet.

A roundtable discussion and Q&A with Mowry & Crimson legal trade counsel will take place Feb. 28, followed by lunch and a meeting with Lee Smith, deputy assistant secretary for policy and negotiations with the Department of Commerce.

“We have a handful of members already planning to come,” Vasilaros said. “I’m planning on doing some more outreach. Obviously with the timing, everyone is focused on Miami, but that will be an opportunity to talk about this more.”

“We’re hoping people will come to Washington on Feb. 27 and 28 and bring the industry’s concerns directly to decision makers — and do it again at the American Boating Congress” May 9-11, Vasilaros said. 


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