Local Reaction Mixed To Tariff Announcement

Local Reaction Mixed To Tariff Announcement

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The good news spread quickly at the Alcoa plant and in Massena. President Trump announced he will slap 10 percent tariffs on foreign imports of aluminum. The mood at Alcoa is sky high.

“It's all we talked about at the mill all morning this morning. I was there: Excitement, joy, happiness. It feels like we have a fighting chance against foreign competition again," said Mark Goodfellow, president of United Steelworkers Local 420A.

Industry executives were with Trump at the White House Thursday. But Alcoa was not. Instead, the company issued a statement. It reads in part, “We believe vital trading partners, including Canada, should be exempt from any tariff on aluminum. The aluminum industry has an integrated supply chain and actions should not penalize those that abide by the rules.”

“It's positive for Alcoa's production in the United States. For Alcoa's production outside the United States it's not positive,” said Gregory Gardner, SUNY Potsdam professor of business.

Union workers in Massena are hopeful there could be higher demand for their aluminum. That could mean more jobs in Massena. But it's not a sure thing.

While the president's announcement is spreading hope in Massena, it is worrying to other people. They fear the tariffs could have a negative impact on some parts of the U.S. economy.

Many fear foreign countries will retaliate with tariffs of their own on U.S. exports. They will target certain U.S. industries.

“If I had to pick the most likely industry they'll target, it's agriculture. It will deny them a market, make it more difficult for them to export their product,” said Gardner.

That could mean depressed prices for farm products, Gardner said. But other consumer goods that use aluminum, such as cars, could see price hikes. Workers at Alcoa aren't buying that line of reasoning at all.

“That's a fear out there for some people, but if more people in America are working, more people are buying, that's gonna boost the economy,” said Goodfellow.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is siding with many Republicans in Congress on this issue. She has concerns the tariff will increase costs on consumers, invite retaliation from other countries and hurt our nation's ability to export.

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