Plastics groups say Trump steel tariffs could cost industry jobs

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Photo by The Plastics Industry Association Carteaux

and chemical industry trade groups are coming out in opposition to President Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying they could cost jobs in plastics companies and be "devastating" to the industry by raising costs for mold makers and machinery companies.

While some aspects of the tariffs remain unclear, the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association said on its Twitter feed that its President and CEO, Bill Carteaux, opened the group's board meeting 8 March urging the plastics industry to oppose the tariffs.

The association said it was mounting a campaign asking members to email or contact Congress to say tariffs could raise costs and jeopardize economic momentum from the administration's recent tax cut package.

"Across-the-board tariffs on these materials could dramatically increase costs for the segments of the plastics industry that depend on them-costs that would be passed down through the supply chain to other plastics companies, manufacturers, businesses and, ultimately, to consumers," the association said in a 7 March letter to President Trump.

"This would undoubtedly have a negative impact on the plastics industry and the economy as a whole," it said. On its website, it called the tariffs "devastating to our businesses and our industry."

A 8 March White House fact sheet said the move is needed to protect national security.

The White House sheet said global "overcapacity and unfair trade" in the steel and aluminum industries have led to excessive levels of imports and decimated US producers, and said the move is needed to protect jobs in those industries.

Carteaux said in his letter, however, that he believes the tariffs would "cost American thousands of manufacturing jobs in fields like plastics, which depend on steel and aluminum to manufacture products."

Carteaux said last year's tax package pushed by the Trump administration could have a "historic impact" on manufacturing and he said the administration's economic policies have been "positive force" for the plastics industry.

But he argued that the tariffs would be a "significant step in the wrong direction."

"The US plastics industry urges this administration not to throw those gains away for a set of tariffs that would only wind up hurting the people they're aimed at protecting," he said.

The Washington-based American Chemistry Council has also argued against the planned tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, saying in a 1 March statement that it could raise costs and put some of the $185 billion in planned investment in new chemical factories at risk.

ACC has also warned of risks from other countries retaliating with their own tariffs against US chemical and plastic resin experts, since the US has a sizable trade surplus globally in those materials.

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