Canada is the largest supplier of both steel and aluminum to the United States, and the supply chains for many products snake back and forth across the border. The United Steelworkers union, which represents members in Canada as well as the United States, said the decision called “into serious question” the design and direction of the administration’s trade strategy.
“The regular chaos surrounding our flawed trade policies is undermining the ability to project a reasoned course and ensure that we can improve domestic production and employment,” the union said in a statement.
The Aluminum Association, the industry trade group, also said it was disappointed. Heidi Brock, the group’s president, said the tariffs would do little to address the larger issue of overcapacity in China “while potentially alienating allies and disrupting supply chains that more than 97 percent of U.S. aluminum industry jobs rely upon.”
The steel and aluminum tariffs already appear to be hurting construction companies, retailers and manufacturers — by raising their costs and injecting uncertainty into the price and availability of the metals going forward.
The Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the health of regional economies, contains more than two dozen references to business fears that the administration’s trade policies, and the steel and aluminum tariffs in particular, would hurt sales and profits.
“These tariffs are hitting the wrong target,” said Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas. “When it comes to unfairly traded steel and aluminum, Mexico, Canada and Europe are not the problem — China is.”
In a more pointed statement, Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, called the tariffs “dumb.”
“Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” he said.