US metal tariffs already impacting Texas companies


Texas companies say the price of goods and services has already increased 10-15 percent since President Donald Trump enacted a tariff on steel and aluminum. They expect the price to continue to increase, which means that’ll be passed down to its consumers. 

The president says he implemented the tariff to protect the country’s metal producers.

Westbrook Metals in north Austin sells steel, aluminum, brass and copper — cut to size or in bulk. Business booms in March because companies stock up to build in the summer. Manager Jak Fuller says prices are already going up.

“It’s given our customers a lot of grief in the sense of, they don’t know how to plan. Our quotes are only valid for one day,” said Fuller. There’s a sign outside of Westbrook Metals telling its customers the price will likely increase every day. 

He says anything made out of aluminum or steel—furniture, landscaping, construction and kitchen materials—will be more expensive. The tariff is discouraging them from buying overseas.

“So they’re going to domestic product, which is great, that’s the idea behind this. Except the domestic market can’t keep up with the demand which is causing the price to rise,” Fuller said.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce says people should brace for higher costs since many products will become more expensive.

“Austin is part of a global supply chain,” said vice presdent for the Austin Chamber Drew Scheberle, “we’re really looking backward not forward when we put tariffs.”

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is now calling on Texas Congressmen to overturn the tariffs. Their board approved a resolution calling on Congress to take on the president over the tariffs. 

Scheberle says the free market has been extraordinarily good to Austin, bringing multi-national companies to town like GM and Samsung, which work with steel and aluminum.

A recent job report shows Austin has a three percent unemployment rate. That number has consistently gone down as more people find jobs in Central Texas. The message from the Austin Chamber: if it isn’t broke change it.

China announced today it plans to implement taxes on some American exports. Those include some foods, like wine, pork, fruits and nuts. They also include supplies like steel pipes, modified ethanol and recycled aluminum. 

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