(Washington, D.C.) The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) today raised its “deep concern” about proposed global tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and urged President Trump to reconsider his planned action.
These “tariffs will disrupt global supply chains, increase the cost of foods and beverages for hard-working families, and jeopardize positive economic gains achieved through tax reform,” wrote Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO, in a letter to President Trump.
In the letter, GMA requested that if tariffs of any kind are enacted on steel and aluminum imports, the tariffs should be targeted and not applied globally. The GMA letter also urged adoption of a product exclusion process that enables food, beverage and consumer product manufacturers and their suppliers to seek exclusions on packaging materials that have no national security application.
The food, beverage, and consumer products industry employs 2.1 million Americans in 30,000 communities across the United States and is the largest source of employment in U.S. manufacturing. Exports of food, beverages and feed are critically important to the U.S. economy, totaling $133 billion in 2017.
The GMA letter noted that the food and agriculture sectors have faced significant retaliation from foreign trading partners in the past when the U.S. has enacted similar policies, and that there are already strong indications this will occur again if the Administration moves forward with the tariffs. “At a time when food and agriculture exports contribute to a trade surplus, these tariffs will expose approximately 9 percent of total U.S. exports to possible retaliation,” the GMA letter said.
“Global tariffs on steel and aluminum will have a unique impact on foods and beverages, acting as a tax on consumers and creating competitive dislocations in the marketplace,” Bailey wrote. “We support your efforts to strengthen the U.S. domestic manufacturing base, but the proposed global tariffs will injure downstream purchasers of these products and add hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs to food and beverage manufacturing. Resources that would have gone into investments in innovation, equipment, and workforce expansion will instead be diverted to offset additional manufacturing costs.”
The GMA letter warned that any increase in costs of foods and beverages resulting from these planned steel and aluminum tariffs will be felt by all Americans, but most acutely by consumers who rely on shelf-stable canned products. Canned fruits and vegetables, for example, offer a nutritionally equivalent yet more affordable and longer lasting alternative to fresh fruits and vegetables. Even a slight increase in the price of these nutritionally essential products will result in hardships for American families that depend on them.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people in our nation and around world. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives. For more information, visit gmaonline.org.