CMI Fights to Exempt Tinplate Steel from Tariffs and Import Restrictions

Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) president, Robert Budway, has presented a case to the US Commerce Department that tinplate steel should be exempt from tariff and other import restrictions.

Budway provided this perspective at the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security public hearing where secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross presided over the hearing investigating the effects of steel imports on US national security.

Tariff or trade restrictions will have severe economic impact on the can manufacturing industry and its employees. The dominant issue is that US tinplate steel production does not meet domestic demand. In 2016, US demand was 2.1 million tonnes, while domestic tinplate production was 1.2m tonnes, this means that only 58% of domestic demand can be met by US tinplate producers.

Tinplate steel is a unique type of steel that is specifically made for food cans. Budway stated that a separate category of tinplate steel requires its own consideration and examination as it is not used in any US defence or national security applications.

This proposed tariff or restriction would also disadvantage the food can manufacturer versus competing packaging materials, such as plastic and glass, which are not subject to tariffs.  Budway said: “Even a small increase in the price of raw materials would create a destructive competitive disadvantage, forcing possible closures of can manufacturing plants in the United States and negatively impacting the 10,000 workers and their families in these US-based plants.”

Budway reminded the committee that access to affordable nutrition is vital for the 42m Americans that live in food insecure households, including 13m children. Additionally, those on government food assistance, including the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps), consume canned fruits and vegetables at an even higher rate than the average American, at a cost 20% less than fresh food.

Budway concluded: “For all of these reasons, we ask that the Commerce Department keep American can manufacturing competitive and exclude tinplate products from this investigation or any future tariffs or actions against this important product.”

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