This piece was originally published in the August 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Craig Updyke, Director, Trade and Commercial Affairs, NEMA
On June 27, volunteer Members of NEMA’s various wire and cable product groups participated in a series of meetings coordinated by NEMA Government Relations on Capitol Hill and with two Executive Branch agencies responsible for trade policy. The meetings built on themes from the NEMA Wire & Cable Industry Forum held the previous day (see page 5).
NEMA Members spent the morning meeting with staff members responsible for trade policy in the Senate offices of Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), David Perdue (R-GA), and Doug Jones (D-AL). Discussion topics included the Administration’s tariffs on aluminum imports and planned tariffs on many Chinese-made products, including some types of electrical wire and cable.
A 10 percent tariff on imports of aluminum rod, which is used to manufacture aluminum stranded wire, went into effect for suppliers in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union on June 1, following the March 23 implementation date for other countries. However, the market impact was felt as early as March 1, when President Trump first announced the tariffs. On June 20, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced 25 percent tariffs on aluminum and copper wires and cables from China, effective July 6, and proposed the same level of tariffs on additional products.
In the afternoon, a larger group met with Nazak Nikakhtar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis, to discuss the Administration’s tariff initiatives. In her position since March, Ms. Nikakhtar acts as the Commerce Department’s primary liaison with U.S. industry and trade associations “to help address industry concerns and support American competitiveness.”
For the day’s final meeting, the NEMA group visited USTR staff members responsible for industrial metals at the agency’s Office of Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness. In part, the office handles negotiations with foreign governments related to the Administration’s tariffs and quotas on steel and aluminum imports.