President Trump announced on Thursday a new 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports — a levy that would be in addition to a potential 60 percent tax on imported aluminum sheet that the marine industry has been fighting.
The announcement, which sparked a global outcry and triggered a decline in world stocks, prompted Canada — the biggest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States — to vow retaliation if it is hit by U.S. duties, Reuters reported.
The decision “severely harms” the recreational boating industry, Dammrich said in a statement released after the announcement.
“Today’s decision by the Administration to implement new tariffs severely harms the $37 billion U.S. recreational boating industry and the 650,000 American workers it supports,” Dammrich said. “While these tariffs are meant to protect American manufacturing, they do just the opposite.”
The promise to implement new tariffs, on top of even larger duties on aluminum sheet proposed by the Department of Commerce that the industry is fighting, will drive up the cost of aluminum used to manufacture more than 111,000 aluminum boats, such as pontoons and fishing models, Dammrich said.
Those boats comprise 43 percent of new powerboat sales each year.
“Further harming the industry, the aluminum sheet our members are forced to source overseas will likely continue to be in short supply in the U.S., destroying our members’ ability to build boats in the U.S.,” Dammrich said. “As a result, the jobs of the American workers who build these boats, their engines and components, are now in jeopardy.”
The NMMA has emphasized that even manufacturers that source aluminum sheet domestically will be affected by shortages and price increases.
“U.S. manufacturers, like those in our industry, which use American-made aluminum, depend on a competitive global market and fair pricing,” Dammrich said. “What’s more, U.S. aluminum manufacturers are at capacity and unable to supply the wide-width aluminum sheet used by our members, forcing them to seek it overseas.”
According to National Public Radio, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Trump ally, called the planned tariffs "a tax hike the American people don't need and can't afford,” adding: "I encourage the president to carefully consider all of the implications of raising the cost of steel and aluminum on American manufacturers and consumers.”
Trump’s announcement came as members of the marine industry converged on Capitol Hill to make their case against new potential tariffs on aluminum sheet that is widely used to make boats, boat lifts and trailers.
The NMMA, along with Avalon Pontoons, Florida Marine Tanks, HydroHoist, and SeaArk Boats, met with members of Congress this week to make the industry’s case that imposing large tariffs on aluminum sheet imports from China will raise prices overall and potentially cause a supply shortage.
Aluminum sheet, a specific type of aluminum, is already facing new tariffs in April — potentially higher than 60 percent — because of an “unprecedented move” by the Department of Commerce last month when it initiated an anti-dumping and countervailing investigation on common aluminum sheet metal from China.
A subsequent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which found imported aluminum sheet metal from China is harming U.S. aluminum manufacturers, allowed for a U.S. probe that will determine whether aluminum alloy sheet from the nation is being dumped or unfairly subsidized.
The investigation will determine whether China is selling the metals to the United States at low prices because Chinese companies are dumping, benefiting from unfair government subsidies, or both.
“This is a high-speed train rolling down the track,” Dammrich told Trade Only Today on Thursday about the aluminum sheet case, prior to Trump’s announcement. “We’re going to try to make the best of it, but there’s going to be tariffs announced in April. They are going to go into effect in April for aluminum sheet. Our goal is to make those as reasonable as possible.”
The announcement on Thursday — which is not yet formal policy — came as an additional blow for aluminum boat and component builders.
“Not surprisingly, we are disappointed about today’s announcement as the combination of this 10 percent and the additional tariff that could come in April on aluminum sheet would send tariffs even higher,” NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins told Trade Only.
“The visits we had with Congressional offices were very positive,” Dammrich said. “But the kind of tariffs they’re talking about are going to have a significant effect on people who manufacture and sell aluminum boats.”