Steel

American Distillers Welcome End of Tariffs in Canada, Mexico

May 20, 2019
Kevin Willis

American whiskey producers feeling the pain from the Trump administration's trade disputes have gotten a shot of relief with an agreement that will end retaliatory tariffs that Canada and Mexico slapped on whiskey and other U.S. products.

The whiskey industry hailed the arrangement to ease trade tensions among the North American allies and said it hopes it's the first of several rounds of good news on the trade front. Distillers have suffered shrinking exports since the last half of 2018 due to tariffs in some key markets.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The Ohio Valley auto industry is still awaiting a decision on whether or not they’ll face tariffs. The Trump administration was scheduled to make a decision this month, but punted for another six months.

Executive Director of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association Dave Tatman said this adds to the uncertainty his industry faces.

“But we have three huge destabilizers for the economy in which we work. The tariff trade war going on with China, the whole potential of national security threat and however that plays itself out and there’s some new information on that, and then the USMCA agreement,” he said.

Sydney Boles

A large whiteboard in an Ashland, Kentucky, unemployment office is covered with a list of companies that are currently hiring. Senior career counselor Melissa Sloas said that just a few years ago, that board was a lot emptier.

This corner of eastern Kentucky has long struggled to make up for losses in mining and manufacturing. Unemployment in the Ashland area is still around 6.3 percent, well above the state average. Career center employees said workers are anxious about the closure of longtime employer AK Steel, which announced in January it would close its Ashland plant this year.


Kevin Willis

The head of Kentucky’s bourbon association says he’s worried that a drawn-out trade war could slow down growth of the state’s signature distilling industry.

Kentucky bourbon is in the crosshairs of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, Mexico and Canada after President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from those countries.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory said distillers are worried that if the dispute escalates, it’ll offset some of the industry’s massive growth over the past decade.

McConnell Warns That Trump’s Tariffs Could Hurt Kentucky

Jun 4, 2018

The Senate’s top leader is usually a powerful ally of President Donald Trump, but he finds himself at odds with his fellow Republican over slapping tariffs on American allies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warns that key Kentucky products including bourbon could wind up targets of retaliation if a trade war erupts over the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada.

“I don’t think anything good will come out of a trade war,” McConnell said during an appearance Friday before Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce. “And I hope we pull back from the brink here. Because these tariffs will not be good for the economy.”

Becca Schimmel

The Trump administration has made good on a promise to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on some major U.S. trading partners, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. commerce department exempted the EU, Canada and Mexico from a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum in March. Those exemptions were set to expire in May, but countries were given one more month. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday the exemptions were expiring and the tariffs will go into effect at midnight. The President is still able to cancel or extend those exemptions.


Becca Schimmel

With sunglasses perched atop his camouflage cap, Brady Carwile filled out an application at a job fair in a community center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Carwile works at a local auto parts maker but he’s hoping for a maintenance position at Century Aluminum’s Hawesville Smelter.

“It’s one of the best jobs you can find around there,” Carwile said.

Just a few years ago Century was laying workers off, not hiring them on. Century idled 60 percent of its capacity in 2015 and laid off more than 300 workers here. Now that the Trump administration is placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Century plans to bring the Hawesville smelter back to full capacity, invest $150 million, and create up to 300 new jobs.


Becca Schimmel

Regional iron and steel industry leaders say they are disappointed by the Trump administration’s delay on a decision about which countries will face new import tariffs. President Trump has postponed until June a decision on which countries will be subject to new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision had been due May 1.

Nucor Corporation CEO and president John Ferriola was among the steel and iron industry representatives who discussed the delay in a press briefing on Tuesday. Nucor has facilities in Kentucky and Ohio. Ferriola said the delay is disappointing because it gives other countries more time to undercut domestic producers with unfairly priced goods, a practice known as dumping.


Flickr/Creative Commons/Pete Prodoehl

Century Aluminum Executive Vice President Jesse Gary said his company will begin hiring up to 300 new workers for its Hancock County smelter as soon as a proposed tariff order is signed.

President Trump is expected to announce a 10 percent tariff on aluminum and a 25 percent tariff on steel this week. Century Aluminum said its smelter in Hancock County could be back to full capacity by 2019 if the tariff order is signed.

Becca Schimmel

The Ohio Valley was once synonymous with steel. Even after the industry’s sharp decline the region is still home to many industries that produce or use steel and aluminum. Those industries are closely watching what the Trump administration will do on steel and aluminum imports.

The Department of Commerce has suggested a massive 24 percent global tariff on those imports. As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to apply tariffs. Now, it’s unclear if President Trump will follow through.

Becca Schimmel

A family-owned German manufacturer is beginning operations at its facility in Bowling Green. Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel expects to employ about 110 people at its plant.

The company creates thin pieces of steel for a variety of industries. Construction on the Warren County plant began in 2015. CEO Mark Loik said about 85 percent of their material will be sourced domestically, including some suppliers in Kentucky. He says Bilstein looked at about four states but decided to locate in Bowling Green because it’s a growing community and the quality of the infrastructure.

Bob Jagendorf/Flickr

Steel makers and manufacturers around the Ohio Valley are waiting for a report from the Trump administration that could trigger higher tariffs on imported steel and bring mixed results for a region that still has strong ties to the industry.

In the presidential campaign Trump told voters he would place sanctions on steel imports from China and other countries, and the report being prepared by the Commerce Department could provide a rationale for new tariffs.