World Bulletin / News Desk
Feeling the pinch from President Donald Trump's protectionist trade policies, the American metal industry has rallied its forces to plead for changes.
Trump in March slapped duties of 25 on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, and at the start of June removed temporary exemptions for major producers Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
While Trump says the border taxes protect US national security and have breathed life into time-ravaged American producers, about 21,000 businesses have sought exemptions from the tariffs for foreign-made goods, arguing that the duties threaten their import-dependent bottom lines.
But three months after the first requests, the government has reviewed only 98, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in recent congressional testimony. Of these, just 42 were approved.
BMP CEO Joel Johnson was among the very first business leaders to seek product exemptions for the Houston pipe company. But when he got no response, he decided to make his case directly, along with thousands of others.
"We made an offer to President Trump and Secretary Ross which was very simple," he told AFP.
"We did a request for a two-year exemption of the tariffs to allow us to build a new factory in Baytown and at the end of these two years we will stop importing and we will be 100 percent US-made pipe."
The proposition should appeal to Trump, given his "America first" agenda, said Johnson, adding that it would bring his workforce to 437 people from 267.
In Baytown, unemployment is two and a half times the national average at 10 percent, and Johnson warned the company will be forced to lay workers off if it faces an annual hit of $25 million to $35 million from the tariffs.
Republican Texas lawmaker Brian Babin made the same case to Ross last week.Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Temmuz 2018, 11:36