NMMA makes full frontal assault on Trump tariffs

Wed May 16 2018, 14:21 PM

US trade association makes coordinated PR and government push back against new tariffs on aluminium and imported marine products from China

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in the US is taking an aggressive, multi-front stand against a series of new tariffs on aluminium and imported marine products introduced by the Trump administration. NMMA president Thom Dammrich penned a blistering editorial on the international finance website, CNBC.com, while the NMMA joined more than 100 other organisations opposing the tariffs. NMMA officials also testified today against the tariffs with special government committees in Washington, DC.

Dammrich wrote in the CNBC editorial that “Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy is putting manufacturers last.” The US$37bn US boating industry, a “powerhouse of American manufacturing”, is “alarmed and let down” by Trump’s new tariffs on aluminium, wrote Dammrich. Three different types of tariffs, including Section 232, countervailing duties by the US Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission and last month’s Section 301 33% duty on aluminium from China, has put the boating industry in a difficult position.

"The Administration's actions increase the cost of manufacturing in the US, resulting in less domestic production, higher prices for American consumers, and fewer jobs for American workers,” wrote Dammrich, warning that aluminium prices will “skyrocket”.

These tariffs, added Dammrich, are in direct conflict with another campaign promise Trump made: To protect American manufacturing.

Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA’s senior vice president of Government Relations, testified today before the United States Trade Representative (USTR) 301 Committee to oppose compounding tariffs on US marine manufacturers. The USTR has added a 25% duty to more than 1,500 products exported from China into the US. That action, said Vasilaros, could damage US boatbuilders.

“Products including marine hydro jet engines, marine combustion engines, propellers and fuel injection pumps are critical to the propulsion and operability of recreational vessels,” she testified. “Subjecting these items to a 25% tariff will not penalise Chinese companies but rather American businesses that import these essential components and American consumers who will pay more for final products including these items.”

The NMMA has joined more than 100 organisations opposing the Section 301 tariffs. The outcry, said an NMMA statement, has been so intense that the original USTR hearings have been increased from one day to three to accommodate all dissenting opinions.

“American businesses should not be subjected to steep tariffs in an effort to deter China from its unfair practices of intellectual property violations, forced technology transfers, and state interventions,” Vasilaros told the committee. The NMMA vice president said intellectual property theft needs to be dealt with, but in the right context. “These issues would be far better addressed in a negotiated, bi-lateral trade agreement with China,” she testified.

The NMMA listed tariffs as one of its top priority items at last week’s American Boating Congress (ABC) in Washington, DC.