LIMA — The effects of President Donald Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs will affect the Lima region, but to what extent is up in the air as exemption details and economic uncertainties are considered by policy makers.
What can be said will happen, according to John C. Navin, dean of the Dicke College of Business Administration at Ohio Northern University, is that the steel industry and the federal government will gain, steel prices will go up and foreign governments affected by the tariff will not view it favorably.
The steel industry has a large presence in the local region. The Ford Motor Company, Husky Lima Refinery and the Lima Building and Construction Trades Council (LBCTC) all rank as some of Allen County’s largest employers, and all three utilize steel in some shape or form.
“In the end, I just can’t see this being a bad thing for American workers,” Brian Sealy, a staff representative with the United Steel Workers (USW), said. USW Local 624 represents Husky workers .
Sealy said Husky might be able to do more drilling and see more business if the tariffs were enacted, which would be a benefit to its workers.
“It could lead to a lot of good things, hopefully,” Sealy said. “If (American workers) are given a fair chance, we can compete with anybody.”
Mike Knisley, president of the LBCTC, said there may be a price increase in steel materials used in construction and other skilled trades, but a rise in prices isn’t something they haven’t seen before. Spikes in the cost of asphalt due to rising oil prices hasn’t disrupted business, and developers have learned to deal with increased prices by “baking” them into the project’s cost.
“That little bit of increase in steel cost, that’s going to be baked into the overall project. It’s not going to sway the owner from doing what they want to do,” he said.
Instead, Knisley said the increased prices will be worth the increased development of the steel industry and the effect the growth will have in helping national security.
Representatives from the United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 1219, who represent Ford Lima Engine Plant workers, refused to comment. A recent report by Goldman Sachs stated steel tariffs could knock off $1 billion from Ford’s profits.
Navin said the extent of how much steel prices will increase can’t be estimated well until they go into effect. Businesses who use steel may have to find different raw material sources and change their logistics accordingly, which may bump prices up higher than expected.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.