ARLINGTON, VA. — The Consumer Brands Association (CBA) is continuing the offensive with 28 likeminded stakeholders across the manufacturing, food retail and agriculture sectors against proposed tariffs on tin mill steel imports. In January, Cleveland Cliffs, Inc. and the United Steelworkers Union proposed antidumping tariffs of up to 300% on certain countries importing tin mill products to the United States. According to the CBA, these tariffs would come at a detriment to canned goods industries and the manufacturing workers behind them.

According to market research by the CBA, the proposed tariffs could result in a price hike of up to 58 cents for canned products — including food, pet food, paint and other home care items — across the United States, and would negatively impact manufacturing workers to the tune of 40,000 lost jobs.

“It is evident that the proposed tariffs would result in serious injury to American consumers and manufacturers in the form of lost jobs and higher prices at the grocery store,” commented David Chavern, president and chief executive officer of the CBA. “We, the makers of America’s favorite household products, urge the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) to follow the facts and reject this dangerous proposal.”

Besides a negative impact to consumers and industry stakeholders, the proposed tariffs would also impact the availability of tinplate steel cans in the United States. A coalition of 28 industry organizations noted domestic tinplate steel manufacturing can only meet half of domestic demand, necessitating certain materials be imported. Additionally, some steel can materials can only be sourced outside of the United States.

“Certain types and widths of steel required by US can manufacturers, including two-piece can steel, are not available in sufficient commercial quantities from domestic suppliers,” the coalition stated in the letter. “To meet demand, can manufacturers and their customers… have procured imported tin mill products from allied countries like Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.”

The proposed tariffs would be placed on tinplate steel materials imported to the United States from Canada, China, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In September, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a preliminary ruling on the proposed tariffs, lowering them to 122% for China, 7% for Germany, and 5% for Canada, and eliminating tariffs for South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The DOC is expected to finalize duty rates and conduct a hearing on the tinplate steel tariffs on Jan. 4, 2024. A final decision on the proposed tariffs is expected shortly thereafter.

“The ubiquitous nature of tin mill steel products underscores the importance of conducting this investigation to the utmost level of scrutiny,” the coalition wrote. “Even marginal tariff duty rates could lead to substantial impacts on domestic can and consumer product manufacturers, negatively impacting their ability to compete with foreign imports of finished cans and consumer products. That is because the reason for subject tin mill imports is not cost, but the quantity and quality specifications required of downstream tin mill product users.”

The letter was addressed to David Johanson, chairman of the ITC, and Marisa Lago, undersecretary of commerce for international trade with the DOC’s International Trade Administration, and signed by 28 stakeholders including the Pet Food Institute, National Retail Federation, American Pulse Association and the Can Manufacturers Institute.

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