If the U.S. enacts the steep steel and aluminum tariffs the president announced a week ago, European Union officials say the 28-nation bloc will respond with increased taxes on a raft of U.S.-made products, including HVAC equipment.
The website Politico obtained a list of the affected products, which include a variety of metals and construction materials and consumer goods such as pants, peanut butter and alcohol. The EU says it will put a 25 percent import tax on $3.5 billion worth of goods in retaliation for U.S. plans to slap a 25 percent duty on imported steel and a 10 percent tax on imports of aluminum.
According to the document obtained by Politico, the list includes “air heaters and hot-air distributors, including distributors which can also distribute fresh or conditioned air.” The value of such imports in 2017 was 2.4 million euro or almost $3 million, the document says.
In a post on his Twitter page, President Donald Trump said he expects to sign the tariffs into law at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. At least initially, the tariffs will not apply to steel and aluminum from Canada or Mexico, the White House announced Wednesday evening. On Monday, the president tweeted that the levies would not apply only if the two trading partners sign an updated North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Republican president’s decision has been criticized by many members of his own party as well as numerous groups that represent steel- and aluminum-consuming industries, such as the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association. The tariffs were said to be a factor in the sudden departure of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
But for the battered steel industry, which says it has long suffered from unfair trade practices by countries such as China, the tariffs are being cheered. On Wednesday, United States Steel Corp. announced it would reopen a shuttered blast furnace in Granite City, Illinois.
Officials with Cleveland-based Majestic Steel USA, which counts a number HVAC companies among its customers, said the tariffs are needed.
“We are supportive of making steel in the USA and proudly support the HVAC sector with domestic produced steel,” Majestic officials said in a statement sent to Snips. “We believe the government needs to take action to prevent further deterioration of the U.S. steel industry given its importance to our country. At the same time, we recognize the importance to service our customers and keep them competitive and will do everything to balance these efforts.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat typically critical of the president, has said trade imbalances are one area where he and New York billionaire have similar views. He cheered Trump’s announcement.
“This welcome action is long overdue for shuttered steel plants across Ohio and steelworkers who live in fear that their jobs will be the next victims of Chinese cheating,” Brown said. “President Trump must follow through on his commitment today to save American steel jobs and stop Chinese steel overcapacity from continuing to infect global markets. If we fail to stand up for steel jobs today, China will come after other jobs up and down the supply chain tomorrow.”