Trade issues, steel prices, tech education top WMMA issues

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Steel tariffs, unfair trade barriers and technical education continue to be issues for member companies of the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America. During a meeting of WMMA’s Public Policy Committee, member companies discussed these issues and possible legislative remedies.

Steel tariffs had caused steel prices to rise steeply, but in recent months steel prices have fallen, these companies observed. High steel prices are not the issue that they last year. One company reported difficulty in getting high-speed steel from Europe.

Regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, members pointed out inequities in trade. USMCA is seen as unlikely to be passed in the U.S. House, said Patrick Rita, WMMA Washington representative.

WMMA member companies reported difficulties in penetrating European and other markets with their products, and pointed to a lack of support from the U.S. government that is in contrast to subsidies and protective tariffs in other countries.

Steel, for example, that may be used by a U.S. company to manufacture products domestically is taxed. While steel on an imported completed machine does not face the same steel tariff. One manufacturer pointed out that his machines face a 70 percent duty before being sold in Brazil. Machines made in Brazil and sold in the U.S. pay no similar duty, he said. Another machinery maker said that countries outside the European Union are adopting similar restrictive trade practices.

Earlier, the association also requested that Congress work with the Trump Administration to ensure that the final outcome of the steel tariffs be implemented in such a way that it protects U.S. manufacturers of downstream products such as woodworking equipment.

Regarding technical education, committee members pointed out the large gap in job openings and available workers, while technical education represents only a small fraction on federal support for education.

The group identified issues to be discussed at the next fly-in to Washington, set for June 4-5, 2019. See


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Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].