Ford says Trump tariffs make U.S. steel costliest in the world

FORD MOTOR CO. contends that the steel tariffs instituted by President Donald Trump have made domestic steel the costliest in the world and have cut into the auto manufacturer's profits. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO
FORD MOTOR CO. contends that the steel tariffs instituted by President Donald Trump have made domestic steel the costliest in the world and have cut into the auto manufacturer's profits. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO

NEW YORK – Ford Motor Co. is escalating its criticism of the Trump administration’s metals tariffs that the company has already said took a $1 billion bite out of profit.

“U.S. steel costs are more than anywhere else in the world,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said Monday at an event marking the start of Ranger pickup production at a factory west of Detroit. He added that Ford is talking to the administration about the tariffs. “We tell them that we need to have competitive costs in our market in order to compete around the world.”

Ford CEO Jim Hackett last month called on President Donald Trump’s administration to resolve trade disputes quickly, warning that it would otherwise do “more damage” to the second-largest American automaker. He said the company sustained the roughly $1 billion hit to profit despite the fact that it sources most of the materials from the U.S.

Domestic hot-rolled coil – the benchmark price for American-made steel – has gained 28 percent in 2018 as the Trump administration implemented tariffs on imports. The levies helped push the price to about $920 a metric ton earlier this year, the highest in a decade. U.S. steel currently costs about $150 more per metric ton than steel in China, the world’s biggest consumer, which accounts for more than half of global demand.

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Joe Deaux and Keith Naughton are Bloomberg News staff writers.