SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Tariffs on steel and aluminum are already impacting Utah businesses, and are expected to raise the cost of home construction. Although consumers may see cheaper prices on other goods it could also impact farmers along the way.
Derek Miller is CEO of Salt Lake Chamber and said tariffs in the end only tend to hurt consumers.
“It’s the federal government adding more tax onto products that come from other countries,” said Miller. “It’s not those countries that pay the tax, but the U.S. consumer who pays the tax.”
The Trump Administration imposed 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum coming from Europe, Canada, Mexico, and China.
On Friday the European Union imposed $3.2 billion in tariffs against U.S. products like whiskey, and Harley Davidson Motorcycles.
Experts note the extra cost of steel is what’s going to have the biggest impact on prices here. Especially on new construction like housing.
“In many ways, if you’re trying to buy it’s bad,” said Miller. “So adding a 25 percent surcharge on that is not going to be helpful to Utah families.”
Even the discussion of tariffs impacted Utah businesses like Bish’s in Salt Lake City. The company does steel fabrication for water purification systems. Back in March, they saw a major slow down for six weeks as buyers got worried.
“A lot of the orders dropped off, and there was just that uncertainty,” said General Manager Jason McGuire. “People didn’t place any new orders because they wanted to see what was actually going to take place.”
McGuire said instead of U.S. steel companies keeping their prices lower many have raised them to make money. Steel companies note major changes have happened in the past, but normally not this quickly.
“Once the president indicated he was getting serious about it, prices went up 30 percent overnight,” said McGuire.
For Bish’s, business has stabilized, and customers are absorbing the higher costs.
Utah agriculture is starting to also take a hit because many of the tariffs from other countries were aimed at their products. Especially pork. With fewer markets buying overseas it’s flooding U.S. markets with more supply.
That will drop the price of many goods, but experts note in the long run it could cost jobs.
“There may be some areas where consumers would say oh good pork prices are going down,” said McGuire. “That hurts the pork producers though.”
China’s tariffs aren’t expected to take effect until July. Although it’s already having an impact on the price of goods.
Experts believe the tariffs are being used to negotiate better trade deals, but it’s unclear how long they will stay in place.