Potential steel and aluminum tariffs have local businesses worried


President Donald Trump’s newest tactic to help U.S. industries is causing controversy around the globe. On Thursday, he announced he wants to slap a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum.

Industries using those materials are worried, including ones here in the Fresno area.

One industry that’s concerned is fencing. Ricky Pizano, owner of First impression Fencing, said he already spends $45,000 to $50,000 on steel materials annually.

He fears costs would drive up costs, predicting an added cost of $12,000 to $15,000 with the tariffs.

“If my costs go up, in turn my customers’ cost goes up,” Pizano said. “It might deter them from getting the job, or even going with us.”

Fowler-based Borga Steel also foresees hits in their pocketbooks. In an emailed statement, company president Ron Heskett said steel is the “largest cost component of what we do as a company.”

His statement also said, “I fully expect construction projects in the agriculture, commercial and solar industries to be much more difficult to justify moving forward. We are taking a hard look at our supply chain and overall business to reduce cost as much as possible.”

The announcement has sent shock waves throughout the global market, with the phrase trade war being thrown around. Some U.S. allies and steel suppliers, like Canada, calling the tariffs unacceptable.

“Canada would obviously take appropriate measures to defend the workers and the steel industry — as well as to defend our industry,” said the country’s Minister of International Trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne.

There are still many things unclear about these proposed tariffs, like if they’ll be phased out over time, or if there will be special exemptions for U.S. allies.

Trump said the tariffs could be imposed as early as this week.

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