American steel prices have skyrocketed since President Donald Trump imposed steel tariffs in early March, an unintended consequence for some U.S. companies, which are now paying almost double what they once did for the metal.
Continue Reading Below
Howard Steel, a Charlotte-based company that manufactures gas lines, structural steel and equipment for job sites, used to pay about 38 cents for a pound of raw materials from domestic steel producers.
Now, thanks to the tariffs, the company pays about 68 cents per pound for the same material, Howard Steel owner James Howard told FOX Business’ Liz Claman during an interview on Friday.
“As soon as they even talked about a tariff, we were getting price increases, and they were rapidly going up,” Howard said. “What you bought one day, three days later, even that price had gone up. There was nothing consistent. We still haven’t reached the apex, and I don’t know where it’s at.”
Trump argued the tariffs -- 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum -- were intended to protect U.S. industries from unfair competition and to bolster national security, one of his main promises during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Critics, however, warn that tariffs will raise the cost of steel and aluminum and make products such as automobiles and canned beer more expensive.
The tariffs are likely to keep driving up domestic metal prices, which have already been on the rise since the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2017. According to a report in Reuters, U.S. steel mills typically adjust prices once a year. In 2018, they’ve already adjusted the price four times.
“The way I feel about it, in theory it’s a good idea,” Howard said. “But I hate to say this, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, and there’s a little bit of greed that goes through there. Anytime you get these price increases, and the orders are still coming in, well they’re just going to give you another price increase.”