As the days and weeks ebb slowly through the first half of 2018, the impact of the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are starting to develop a little more clearly. It’s fitting that many throughout the globe will be observing “May Day” soon—traditionally acknowledging the beginning of the Spring season but equally as important—International Workers’ Day. May 1st was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago—a general labor strike for an eight hour work day. That day, and several afterward, were marked by confrontation and violence—something that has repeated periodically in subsequent years and decades since on that anniversary.
There is additional significance to this date in 2018 as the initial expiration date for President Trump’s tariff exemptions for our NAFTA partners, the EU, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea. Much like watching a film series or soap opera—tens of millions eagerly wait and watch to see what will unfold next. What is known is that there have already been ripples in global “trade waters”. What is feared are larger waves. We at IRMCO continue our work to ensure our customers’ May Day does not become a “mayday!”
Many smaller manufacturers have already felt the pinch of tightening supplies of special grades and forms of metal product, specialty tube and pipe and increased prices for existent stock. Even if one bought up reserve supplies before the tariffs were enacted—those reserves will not last very long. While smaller manufacturers and shops were expected to be the proverbial “canary in the mine” – some larger companies are starting to worry their investors with forecasts to stockholders. If other nations plan on retaliating with tariffs/penalties of their own—the political negotiations will play out on the shop floors and supply lines through the global economy. Make no mistake about it—these tariffs have put a microscope not only on global manufacturing processes—but also consumer culture(s). If tariffs continue to roll out—regardless of where or why they originate—the worker and producer feel it most dramatically.
These negotiations are nothing new to our time or circumstance—they happen all the time; they come and go. But as we greet Spring on May Day we should look around, as most do, with optimism for better days and things to come. We at IRMCO reflect on our good fortune, valued business partners and tip our hats to those workers and producers this May Day—just as we too get back to work. To learn how the “IRMCO WAY” can impact your bottom line contact us at 800-323-2933 or www.irmco.com.