Local steel industry supports Trump's push for tariffs

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Local steel industry officials are applauding President Trump's push for tariffs on steel and aluminum. (WLS)

Local steel industry officials are applauding President Trump's push for tariffs on steel and aluminum. They say they have been put at a disadvantage against foreign competitors for far too long.

"Some of our product lines, foreign product impacts our markets by almost 70 percent, only 30 percent left for domestic supplies. Based on all the companies situated in the United States we're not able to compete with those prices," said Tony Frabotta, the Vice President of Zekelman Industries.

The Chicago-based company is the largest independent steel pipe and tube manufacturer in North America, employing more than 2,000 workers, including 500 in our region.

Zekelman is promising to give its workers a $1,000 annual bonus if the president's trade policy changes go into effect.

President Trump is pushing for a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

"We've had to close facilities at the expense of workers and families. This is now going to give us an opportunity to potentially reopen facilities and grow new business," Frabotta said.

The tariffs could have dramatic effects in Indiana. The state leads the nation in steel production.

"In this area you cut out the mills, you cut out everything," said Jerry Martinez, a steel worker in northwest Indiana.

He said he supports the tariffs.

"It's going to boost the economy. It's got to work," Martinez said.

Outside the steel industry, there are concerns about trade wars and rising prices.

Drew Fox owns 18th Street Brewery in Hammond. His company orders steel fermenters from Asia and purchases about 1 million aluminum cans a year.

"What it allows us to do buying either Chinese or Canadian product, it allows us to buy it at a lower cost and in turn grow the business, adding more employees, adding more locations," he said.
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