Trump’s inflated aluminum prices hurt Colorado businesses


Inflation and increasingly high prices for consumer goods are hurting all Americans, especially minority-, immigrant- or women-owned businesses. Recent price hikes have threatened these small businesses’ operability, and many already face an uphill battle.

High aluminum prices — originating from former President Donald Trump’s Section 232 tariffs — have caused a particular economic disruption throughout the private sector and for consumers.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis correctly pointed out that these tariffs are a burden to our economy and that eliminating Section 232 would be a significant step towards easing inflation.

Fortunately, Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, are working to pass a bipartisan bill that would repeal Section 232 and clean up the fiscal mess that Trump left behind. Colorado’s federal elected officials should support this action to help reduce inflation for their constituents in our state.

Mismanagement under the Trump administration has contributed to the spike in the price of aluminum. In 2018, Trump imposed Section 232 tariffs on imported aluminum. As a result, the price of aluminum has jumped from $1,600 per ton to nearly $2,500 per ton. Trump’s poor implementation and fundamental misunderstanding of global markets have left small businesses and consumers to pay the price.

Artificially high aluminum prices threaten the complex supply chain that depends on the industry. In Colorado, the aluminum sector is responsible for more than 4,000 jobs.

Aluminum yields a total economic impact of $1.2 billion. Important sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture directly depend on affordable aluminum. Section 232 ultimately hurts good-paying jobs and Colorado’s economy as a whole.

Minority-owned businesses have experienced particular hardships caused by inflated aluminum prices. A diverse private sector that reflects the American people is crucial to a vibrant economy. High aluminum prices have distorted our markets as price increases of important raw materials mean that companies endure higher operating and production costs.

Consequently, business owners have been forced to raise prices and consumers have to pay more for everyday goods. Minority-, immigrant- or women-owned businesses face numerous start-up hurdles and challenges to remain operable. Inflated costs threaten their supply chains and distort their prices. Such levies fall heaviest on the most vulnerable portion of the private sector.

Repealing Section 232 also offers environmental benefits, which should hopefully win favor among Colorado’s officials. Experts from the American Security Project recently released a study that highlighted how eliminating these tariffs would reduce inflation and support freer trade for low carbon aluminum.

This type of aluminum is manufactured in hydro-powered facilities rather than alternatives from carbon-intensive smelters in China that burn coal. Repealing Section 232 would reduce the cost of importing this environmentally friendly alternative and help reduce our carbon footprint.

We need our elected officials to support equitable policies that foster development in all communities, which is why the work of Warner and Toomey to repeal Section 232 is so important.
These officials are leading a bipartisan effort to advance real solutions to address America’s economic issues. Voters want results, and the Warner-Toomey bill, called the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, offers a clear path toward reducing inflation.

We hope Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper support this forward-thinking legislation.
Coloradans need solutions to our economic uncertainty. When President Trump left the White House, he also left our economy in disarray. Now the American people have had to work hard to clean up his mess. Affordable aluminum is good news for consumers and the private sector and expanding free trade is a crucial step toward a stronger economy.

Efforts to repeal Section 232 would establish a more equitable economic environment.

Portia Prescott is the president of the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State-Area Conference and managing partner of Jefferson Prescott Consulting.

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