Yesterday the U.S. International Trade Commission lifted tariffs on imported steel from Australia, Canada, France and Japan, and there was much rejoicing in the boardrooms of many automakers that build cars and trucks in the U.S. The tariffs were originally put in place on cheap steel imported into the U.S. from a total of six countries that threatened to collapse the U.S. steel industry back in 1993. Some 13 years later, the U.S. steel industry is healthy, and the tariffs that once were helpful, are now creating artificially high steel prices in the U.S.
Six automakers including General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Nissan and Toyota lobbied hard for this outcome and were extremely pleased yesterday, despite not getting tariffs lifted against steel imported from Germany and Korea, tariffs on both of which will remain in place until reviewed again in 2011.
The rising cost of raw materials, steel in particular, has been a constant thorn in the side of our own domestic auto industry, the members of which are busy trying to orchestrate complex turnarounds at the moment. Hopefully market prices for steel will begin to drop as competition to sell this all-important ingredient in modern day cars heats up again.