Illinois manufacturers could see both benefits and drawbacks to new tariffs put in place by the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imported into the U.S. There are exemptions for Canada and Mexico, pending a possible renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Mark Denzler is vice president and COO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. He says this state could be affected more than others.
“Illinois manufacturing is a very large part of our economy, employing about 600,000 workers,” Denzler said. “We’re also a very diverse manufacturing economy, so this is going to have a profound impact in a couple of different ways.”
Denzler says some companies will benefit from the move. For example, U.S. Steel has announced it will rehire about 500 workers in Granite City, Illinois, which appears to be in part because of the new tariffs.
President Donald Trump highlighted U.S. Steel’s decision when he formally announced the tariffs Thursday.
“In anticipation that we’d be here today, U.S. Steel announced it’s reopening a mill in Illinois — a big one — and recalling 500 workers immediately,” Trump said.
But Denzler noted that others won’t be as lucky.
“Illinois is the second largest (state) importer of steel, for example, so when you see those increased prices, that’s going to trickle down,” he said. “We use a lot in the auto industry and heavy equipment. And so that’s going to have a negative impact on a lot of manufacturers in Illinois as well.”
Denzler says tariffs paid by manufacturers generally are absorbed into the price of products.
That means Illinois consumers soon could be paying more for various goods.
“It’s generally the case,” Denzler said. “For example, if the auto sector has to pay additional costs to procure steel, that would probably increase the cost of the car to the consumer.”
Denzler says the impact of the tariffs will be lessened due to the Trump administration carving out Canada and Mexico, which account for about one-third of the steel imports into the U.S.
He said he hadn’t yet heard of any other manufacturers who are planning to add jobs in the state.
“There’s a number of steel companies in Illinois, and I think they’re all taking a look at it,” Denzler said. “A couple of them were represented at the White House a week or so ago when the president was talking about some of these decisions. But we have not yet heard from anyone else outside of U.S. Steel.”
Denzler says the IMA has not yet staked out an official position on the tariffs.
“We’re going to wait and see what happens,” Denzler said. “It’s a federal issue and we’re largely a state trade organization. At this point, we’ll look at the announcement and talk to our members before any decision is made.”
A version of this article appeared on the Watchdog.org website.
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