On March 1, President Trump announced his intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on all steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on all aluminum imports. If signed into law, these tariffs will have an almost immediate impact on the cost of steel and aluminum purchased for construction projects, negatively impacting both public and private construction markets.
Under existing law, the president may impose tariffs in response to a threat to national security. In Jan. 2018, the Department of Commerce determined that steel and aluminum imports pose a threat to the national security, presenting the president with three recommendations for imposing tariffs and/or quotas on steel and aluminum imports. The president has indicated that he plans to impose more onerous tariffs than recommended.
The construction industry depends on affordable steel, whether it's rebar for highway projects or structural steel used in commercial projects. Aluminum is used in all types of buildings for window frames and curtain walls, siding, and other architectural elements.
These tariffs will reduce or eliminate any profit for contractors who have already signed a fixed-price contract for a project, but who have not yet bought metal products for the project. Additionally, bid prices will rise for future projects, causing public owners operating on fixed budgets to reduce the number or scope of projects they put out to bid. Some private projects will be canceled as construction cost increases make them uneconomic.
The construction industry has no time to waste when it comes to opposing the tariffs. AGC members should appeal directly to President Trump to abandon these harmful tariffs. AGC members should also urge their Congressional representatives to take any action necessary to stop the steel and aluminum tariffs.
TAKE ACTION NOW