Despite strong opposition from not only the the grocery industry, but Republican lawmakers as well, President Trump passed his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
The decision was met with outcry from the National Retail Federation, which called the tariffs a "self-inflicted wound on the nation's economy."
NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay urged that tariffs are a tax "plain and simple" and in this case is an" unnecessary tax on every American family," adding that consumers are only just beginning to see more money in their paychecks following tax reform, but those gains will "soon be offset by higher prices for products ranging from canned goods to cars to electronics."
“The retail industry is extremely concerned by the administration’s apparent desire to ignite a trade war, where the net losers will be the very people the president wants to help," Shay said in the statement. "On top of steel and aluminum tariffs, retailers are troubled by the direction of the ongoing NAFTA negotiations and the threat of additional tariffs on consumer goods from China. The true greatness of America cannot be realized when we build walls blocking the free flow of commerce in today’s global economy.”
Prior to the imposition of the tariffs on Thursday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association sent a letter to President Trump expressing “deep concern” about steel and aluminum imports and requested that if tariffs of any kind are enacted on the imports, they should be targeted instead of applied globally.
Subsequently, GMA's EVP Roger Lowe told WGB in an email that the association "is relieved that the Administration provided provisional exemptions to the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico and will establish a clear process for other key allies to apply for similar exemptions." Lowe said GMA is further "encouraged by the inclusion of a product specific exclusion process, which could mitigate some impacts on food, beverage and consumer product packaging."
However, he added, "GMA is still reviewing the effects of the announced tariffs on our member companies to see whether the flexibility provided in the proclamations will mitigate the most severe impacts of the tariffs on the prices of food, beverage and personal care products.”
GMA initially rebuffed the tariffs in light of concerns that it "will disrupt global supply chains, increase the cost of foods and beverages for hard-working families, and jeopardize positive economic gains achieved through tax reform."
Although U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in an interview used cans of Campbell's Soup and Budwesier as examples of the tax being "no big deal," trade groups representing the manufacturers disagree. A blog post at the Beer Institute noted that aluminum cans make up 11.4% of brewers' manufacturing costs, and that tariffs would cost the industry about $347.7 million a year.
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