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Connecticut Manufacturer Hopeful For Resolution On Steel Tariffs

President Donald Trump signs a proclamation on steel and aluminum imports.
Joyce N. Boghosian
White House
President Donald Trump signs a proclamation on steel and aluminum imports.

Last week President Donald Trump announced he will levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports of 25 percent and 10 percent respectively. And it’s already having an impact on Connecticut companies.

Jamison Scott, is executive vice president of Air Handling Systems based in Woodbridge, which makes HVAC equipment. He said since the White House announcement, steel prices have already gone up 16 percent. He blamed speculation for the rise.

“There was a lot of discussion about China and then there were exceptions for Canada and Mexico, which is great, but it’s still a global market,” he said. “While I expect domestic steel, there are many others who get steel from other sources, so it is a global market. Anything that changes globally affects the prices of myself and other manufacturers.”

The challenge for Air Handling Systems and other manufacturers is the uncertainty of the price of steel in the coming months.

Scott said the only thing he can do now is stay ahead of the game.

“I’m purchasing as much stuff as I am right now based on the current pricing structure before it kicks in [in] a couple of weeks,” he added.

Those who depend on steel are paying a premium right now, and Connecticut is particularly vulnerable because of its defense and aerospace industries. But Scott doesn’t believe this will be a long-term issue.

“I’m really hoping that this does settle itself within the next three to six months and it will not have a long-term effect in the state of Connecticut,” he said.

Scott said he expects a discussion about infrastructure in the coming months -- and the importance of using domestic steel to control the quality of the product going into the highways and bridges for safety matters.

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