Trump's Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Could Raise Car, Beer And Candy Prices

Mar 2, 2018

Beer, cars, baseball bats, airplanes: These are a few of the products that could face price hikes when new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum go into effect.

The move announced by the president on Thursday is intended to bolster the domestic steel and aluminum industries. Trump said that imported steel will face tariffs of 25 percent, and aluminum will face tariffs of 10 percent.

Some manufacturing advocates are suggesting the impact will be minimal. As CNN Money reported, they say "the price increases would be small because the trade measures would boost steel and aluminum production in the United States."

However, as NPR's Jim Zarroli recently reported, other manufacturers are concerned about how the changes will impact sensitive and complicated supply chains for some of the U.S.'s most prominent products.

Here are a few of the industries voicing concerns:


Beverage giant MillerCoors, for example, said that it was "disappointed" at the move, and that it "is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry."

"We buy as much domestic can sheet aluminum as is available, however, there simply isn't enough supply to satisfy the demands of American beverage makers like us," the company said on Twitter. "American workers and American consumers will suffer as a result of this misguided tariff."

Trade association The Beer Institute is calling for a waiver from the tariffs for aluminum used by the industry. "Imported aluminum used to make beer cans is not a threat to national security," a Beer Institute statement reads.


Try not to panic, chocolate lovers: Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for The Hershey Company, tells NPR that "we use steel for our U.S. plants and plant expansions and aluminum for our product packaging" — such as the foil used to wrap Hershey's kisses.

"Such a broad and sweeping order could have a negative impact on the entire U.S. economy, potentially costing U.S. jobs and ultimately, hurting American consumers through higher prices for everyday products," the Hershey spokesman adds.


They'll likely get pricier too, the American International Automobile Dealers Association said: "Both metals are crucial to the production of cars and trucks sold in America today and would raise the sale prices of those vehicles substantially," the group said in a statement according to CNBC. A statement from the American Automotive Policy Council expressed concern that the change would place the U.S. auto industry at a "competitive disadvantage."

Auto price hikes may be uneven, however, depending on the proportion of domestic versus imported metal used by car manufacturers. CNBC reported that General Motors expected only a modest impact because "we purchase over 90% of our steel for U.S. production from U.S. suppliers."


The tariffs potentially could impact the price of solar projects, wind turbines and energy storage units, according to industry publication Greentech Media.

It could also raise the cost of offshore platforms and pipelines, the publication added, noting that the natural-gas industry "relies on steel valves that are not currently made in the U.S."


It's less likely that defense will be impacted. According to the Wall Street Journal, "manufacturers in the defense industry rely on imports for only a fraction of their steel and aluminum needs, and the Defense Department said last week it wasn't concerned about the effect of tariffs on the industrial base for military equipment."

The same does not appear true for airplane manufacturers. NPR's Jim Zarroli recently reports that "U.S. aerospace industry, which provides 2.5 million American jobs and exports heavily, depends on steel and aluminum imports to build aircraft."

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