Many firms will be forced to absorb increased costs, leading them to cut back on investment and personnel, said Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
AGC chief executive officer Stephen Sandherr issued a statement in reaction to US president Donald Trump's announcement that he will impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products. "These new tariffs will cause significant harm to the nation's construction industry, put tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the president's proposed infrastructure initiative and potentially dampen demand for new construction projects for years to come,” said Sandherr. “That is because the newly-imposed tariffs will lead to increases in what construction firms are forced to pay for the many steel and aluminium products that go into a typical construction project.
"Firms that are already engaged in fixed-price contracts may be forced to absorb these costs, forcing them to cut back on new investments in equipment and personnel. Higher steel and aluminium prices will make the kind of infrastructure work president Trump supports more expensive, forcing federal, state and local officials to cut back on projects they can fund. And the likely trade war these new tariffs prompt will diminish demand for private investment in infrastructure as well as construction demand for manufacturing, shipping and distribution facilities.
"Considering the damages these new tariffs will inflict on the construction industry, it is easy to understand why recent, independent studies estimate that nearly 30,000 construction workers will lose their jobs because of these new tariffs.”
He added that the bottom line is that any short-term gains for the domestic steel and aluminium industries will likely be offset by the lower demand that will come for their products as the US economy suffers the impacts of the new tariffs and the trade war they encourage. “A better way to cultivate a stronger domestic steel and aluminum industry is to increase federal funding for infrastructure projects that will boost demand for these and many other products,” he said. "That is why the Associated General Contractors of America will continue to take every possible step to convince the administration and Congress to reconsider these costly new tariffs and instead enact the kind of new infrastructure proposal that will rebuild our steel and aluminium industries while strengthening our overall economy.”