Trump Places Tariffs On Aluminum, Steel Imports; A&D Industry Sees Potential Harm

President Trump on Thursday announced tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, saying the new measures are meant to counter unfair trade practices that hurt American workers and industries and threaten national security.

The tariffs, which Trump had already telegraphed last week, will help protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industries, the White House said. Trump is imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent levy on aluminum imports.

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House.

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House.

For now, the tariffs don’t apply to Canada or Mexico, which a White House release said, Trump “recognizes … present a special case” while discussions continue with those countries to resolve U.S. concerns.

A separate release from the White House pointed to the use of aluminum on a number of U.S. weapon systems such as the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle and AH-64 Apache Helicopter, and the Marine Corps V-22 Osprey aircraft. It also cited the use of steel on aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, submarines, tanks and light armored vehicles.

Organizations that represent the U.S. aerospace and defense industries are concerned the tariffs will have negative impacts on the industrial base.

The National Defense Industrial Association, which represents corporations and members that are part of the defense industrial base, said in a statement it “is concerned that any non-targeted increase in tariffs and resulting international retaliation will harm our defense industrial base and our warfighters, who depend on U.S. industry and its global defense supply chain of allies and partners to ensure they have the best equipment at an affordable cost.”

Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, told Trump in a March 8 letter that lower energy costs will do more to bolster the U.S. aluminum industry than tariffs, and cited industry analysts as saying the new levy will add “almost $2 billion in unnecessary costs to U.S. manufacturing.”

Fanning also wrote that the commercial aerospace industry “requires” foreign steel and aluminum, adding that the tariffs will negatively impact the aerospace and defense supply chain by increasing costs on commercial products, which in turn “would also impact revenue to invest and remain competitive on the defense side of their business.”

Earlier this week, Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin [LMT], said her company needed more detail about president's plans for the tariffs to understand that the impact might be on the company and its suppliers (Defense Daily, March 6).

A spokeswoman for Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII], the Navy's only supplier of aircraft carriers, as well as a builder of Navy submarines, ships, and Coast Guard vessels, said the company is also assessing the impact of the tariffs on its business.

"It is important to note that all of our steel is domestically sourced, and our steel is very specialized," the HII spokeswoman said via an email request for comment. "We currently have long term rolling contracts with our steel producers, and we will continue to assess these contracts as any changes in policy develop."

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