When Giffin Sheet Metals Ltd. needed a large quantity of aluminized steel for an automotive project in Alliston, Ontario, the Toronto contractor reached out to a U.S. supplier in southeastern Michigan.
Aluminized steel is harder to come by in Canada and the company required several hundred thousand pounds. It was a transaction the 70-year-old company had done many times before, and with the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, such cross-border purchases were virtually hassle-free.
This time, however, tight supplies since the U.S. instituted tariffs on almost all foreign steel turned a routine order into an international pain, said Bill Giffin, a vice president and partner at Giffin Sheet Metals.
“It’s gone crazy,” Giffin said.
SMACNA members like Giffin are among those impacted by President Donald Trump’s March 1 decision to impose a 25 percent duty on imported steel and a 10 percent levy on aluminum. Even though many SMACNA members and machinery manufacturers say they purchase domestic metal almost exclusively, the boost in the price of imported steel quickly had an effect on costs from U.S. suppliers, many members say.