Trade

Metal Firms Continue War With Each Other Over Trump’s Tariffs

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Allegheny Technologies metal company located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvnia, which turns raw steel imported from Indonesia into finished products for the likes of Boeing, says it's at imminent risk of closure if they aren't granted an exemption from Trump's tariffs, but they're facing opposition from their other metal companies.

Alleghney says their plant will be forced to close, taking several hundred jobs with it, but rivals in the American metal industry aren't just opposing the company's request for an exemption; other firms are asking the Trump regime to fuck them even harder.

Rivals Outokumpu Oyj and North American Stainless argue not only that Allegheny’s request should be rejected, but want the Trump administration to take more extreme measures against Indonesian imports. Allegheny executives say that without a break, they’ll be forced to shut down the Midland factory and fire 100 workers, with consequences for several hundred more jobs linked to the plant.

Allegheny’s rivals are pushing not just for the bid for tariff relief to be rejected but for higher tariffs still to be imposed on imports from Indonesia. They are also lobbying for the removal of the tariff-free access to the U.S. that some Indonesian exports enjoy under a special program for developing nations.

Rival companies also say Allegheny should just pay them whatever they want.

Allegheny insists it has tried buying stainless steel slabs from U.S. suppliers but complains of extortionate prices.

“We pursued all sources — domestic and international — without success,” Wetherbee said in the emailed statement to Bloomberg. “Capacity in Indonesia was just coming on-line, so we fully vetted Tsingshan as a potential partner, Indonesia as a supply source, and structured our joint venture to fully comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”

Allegheny’s competitors say they are simply offering U.S. market prices and call its reluctance to pay those evidence of the unfair advantage its Tsingshan relationship provides.

ATI simply doesn’t want to pay more than it is being charged by its Chinese joint venture partner,” said Lisa Jester, a spokeswoman for AK Steel Corp., which in December laid off 100 workers at another Pennsylvania plant because of reduced production. “We can make the steel just a few miles up the road from ATI.

Why would they want to pay more? No one wants to pay more. That's literally the opposite of how every other marketplace in the world works.

I don't worship Free Market Jesus, but this is what happens when you directly interfere with and distort the market. You end up with better connected firms screwing over smaller firms even within their own industry.

There's little rhyme or reason to any of this; few explanations for why this or that is subjected to tariffs, how it relates to national security, and what smaller firms are expected to do.

I think we should expect to see most of the metal industry -- and the associated unions whose employees work in the industry's largest firms -- support Trump in the presidential election because, at the end of the day, they only care about themselves. I think we can expect to see that regardless of who the Democratic presidential nominee is because Trump is going to run on the promise of more aggressive and nationalistic trade policy. It's not like he has much else to run on.

  • muselet

    There’s a part of me that’s rooting for every one of those companies to fail.

    There’s a larger part of me that simply wants Donald Trump’s Forever Trade War Against The World to end.

    How is it that an entire industry, and an important one at that, can have seemingly zero adults in charge?

    –alopecia