Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel products is a massive mistake that could lead to the loss of business, the owner of a Yorkshire steel company has told Sky News.
Duncan Ellis, director of West Yorkshire Steel, makes special alloy engineering steel that is only made in Europe.
Steel alloys are used in the manufacture of jet engines, spacecraft and electric motors.
His customers can now expect to pay 25% more because of US tariffs on steel exports, which could hurt his business.
Asked whether the company could cut its costs by 20% to maintain its competitiveness, Mr Ellis said: “We can’t do that.”
“It’s either the customer pays more or we maybe could lose the business.
“We don’t know what is going to happen at the moment. It’s an expensive product that is going to be 25% more. It’s a massive amount of money.”
A 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium have now come into force.
“I think Donald Trump has made a massive mistake,” said Mr Ellis.
“He’s created a trade war that is going to cause a massive problem for steel stockholders, steel producers throughout Europe.”
Britain exports around £360m in steel to the US every year, 10% of the industry’s total exports.
For the EU, the measures will affect exports that were worth €6.4bn (£5.6bn) in 2017.
The Trump administration argues the tariffs are necessary to tackle overcapacity that is damaging US steel manufacturers.
“It is difficult to see what good can come of these tariffs,” UK Steel director Gareth Stace said.
“US steel consumers are already reporting price increases and supply chain disruption and with some half-billion dollars of steel exported from the UK to US last year, UK steel producers are going to be hit hard.”
US manufactures warned the Trump administration that imposing tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico “places American manufactures directly in harm’s way”.
“The last time the US imposed steel tariffs in 2002, more than 200,000 American manufacturers lost their jobs,” the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users said in a statement.
“The consequences of these 232 steel tariffs could be even worse for US companies as the 2002 tariffs were not applied to Canada and Mexico.”
Ben Brocklesby, director of aluminium bi-folding door and window manufacturer Origin Global, told Sky News that in the short terms its manufacturing costs would rise by 10%, in line with tariffs on aluminium products.
Origin Global, which is based in High Wycombe has operations in Florida, plans to absorb the cost and not pass it on to customers. It does not plan to cut jobs because of the tariffs.
“We can consider sourcing aluminium from the US, rather than in the EU,” Mr Brocklesby said.