By Jamel C. Holley
The federal government levied taxes on aluminum imports in 2018 to protect domestic manufacturers under the guise of national security. However, these “protections” inhibited trade and raised the price of raw materials, damaging the very economy that the policy intended to help.
Aluminum prices have risen from $ 1,600 (off-tariff) to $ 2,800 per tonne, hurting all stakeholders, from manufacturers to consumers. Additionally, recent supply chain shortages are limiting day-to-day market transactions as inflation continues to rise, putting the country further at risk. These damaging tariffs have made a bad situation worse.
As President Biden scrambled to resolve this issue at the recent US-EU conference, large amounts of aluminum were still subject to harmful royalties. Eliminating these Section 232 tariffs, as proposed by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) And Mark Warner (D-Va.) In their bipartite legislation, would help safeguard our national security interests. and strengthen our economy.
There is no doubt that the security of the United States relies on aluminum, a crucial raw material for manufacturing and military infrastructure. Yet these section 232 tariffs increased the price of aluminum and threatened our safety. Such tariffs restrict our defense capacity and harm our economy.
Many are unaware that aluminum is a crucial metal for military-grade armor, a strong metal that can be shaped while maintaining structural integrity. Troop transports, aircraft components and small arms are constructed from aluminum. Section 232 has made it more difficult to arm and protect our military personnel. With a more sparse and more expensive supply of this base metal, weapons and armor are more difficult to develop and deploy.
Section 232 also harms our internal security by making it difficult to improve our infrastructure. Our national security depends on a solid infrastructure; Section 232 threatens to undermine improvement efforts by driving up the price of aluminum. Its light resistance under tension makes it an ideal option for modern buildings. Of all the aluminum produced in the world, 25% is used in construction. Affordable aluminum is all the more important in light of the infrastructure package approved by Congress and would ensure that our country’s roads, bridges, tunnels and waterways can meet modern demands.
The repeal of section 232 will also stimulate our economy and speed up our recovery. In New Jersey, the aluminum industry brought in $ 2.59 billion to the state and generated $ 136.9 million in national and local revenue. A weak economy compromises our national security. The expansion of such a critical sector could boost overall growth across the entire market, helping to counter the fiscal stagnation we have endured in recent years.
Free trade is not only good business, but also an important way to protect this state and this country.
Senators Toomey and Warner are active advocates for a bipartisan solution to our trade problems. Their bill, the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, would rule the executive branch by passing tariffs. Congress would be able to review any national security tariffs proposed by the president. This bill would ensure that the Senate and the House could protect our national economy, expand our international trade relations and strengthen internal security.
While these tariffs were meant to protect American interests, there is no doubt that Section 232 has harmed domestic manufacturers and workers instead. Better access to affordable aluminum supports defense manufacturing, improved infrastructure and spurs our fiscal recovery. Supporting free trade will help keep America secure as we move forward.
Assembly Member Jamel C. Holley serves as the Deputy Chairman of the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee of the Assembly. It represents the 20th Legislative District, which includes parts of Union County.
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