The View From Here
by Ric Jackson
June 3rd, 2018

Brace Yourself for Trade Tariffs

While much debated over time, free trade has been a cornerstone of the world economy for decades. Now, it looks like we could be reaching the end of an era.

Temporary steel and aluminum trade tariff exemptions in place with the European Union, Canada and Mexico expired on June 1, and the White House imposed duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. How will our industry be affected?

Prior to June 1, many of our industry stakeholders – and likely most of the world – saw tariff threats as an empty negotiating tactic. However, as the possibility of a world without free trade became real on the first of the month, we need to brace ourselves. Mexico has already threatened retaliation via tariffs, and the European Union could be fighting back with a formal dispute with the World Trade Organization, as well as tariffs on exports to the U.S. of its own. Canada is putting sanctions in place against U.S. metals as well.

We’ve already seen the impacts of softwood tariffs on Canadian lumber in higher residential construction costs. The arrival of tariffs on aluminum and steel  means we must be prepared for a ripple effect of consequences on our industry, including:

  1. Increased raw material costs that will in turn raise construction costs, and;
  2. Slowed new construction growth due to increased construction costs.

The View from Here

I am all for fair trade practices and anti-dumping that hurt our domestic producers. But I also believe that free trade enables us to be competitive on a global scale, and trade barriers will inhibit our growth both domestically and internationally.

What’s your View? Email me directly at Eric.Jackson@Quanex.com.

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