The supply chain crisis limiting steel and aluminum shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially those in the industry.

As early as June 2021, The Associated General Contractors of America (ACG) warned about limited materials availability and spiraling prices. Just months earlier, steel prices had seen an 11% increase. Truck and rail transportation were becoming scarce. Available materials were costly and slow to deliver.

Meeting of the minds

Amid this crisis, aluminum and steel industry leaders met with the White House National Economic Council. Their goal was to communicate the urgency of opening the supply chain. Construction and manufacturing were coming to a halt.

A broken supply chain means no new products on the market. More significantly, the lack of materials requires fewer steel and aluminum workers. The steel and non-ferrous industries had already witnessed job loss in 2018 due to tariffs placed on foreign steel over concerns about national security threats.

Additionally, the tariffs would force steel and aluminum production to return to America, but the broken supply chain would end even more jobs.

The current administration’s Economic Council Members met with European Union members to readdress the tariffs and hammer out revisions to ease trade. The dealings included

  • 25% tariff lifts on EU steel
  • 10% tariff lifts on EU aluminum
  • plans for tariff-rate quota agreements between the UK and Japan

Lifting tariffs, even temporarily, would get the supply chain moving again.

Steel and aluminum relief is on the way

Changing these tariffs represents $10 billion in export trade between the US and the EU. The United States recently committed to removing tariffs for

  • 3 million metric tons of EU steel (melted and poured) imported to the US
  • 18,000 metric tons of unwrought aluminum

The 25% steel tariffs will be applied again when exports exceed these limits.  As a point of reference, the US imported an average of 5.4 tons of steel in the last three years.

The tariffs may return. Policymakers may strike another deal encouraging trade between nations.

For now, however, architects and structural engineers will continue designing buildings and products that require steel and aluminum. In turn, they’ll need detailers, fabricators, mill producers, service centers, and erectors who can make their designs a reality.

With this relief on the way, it’s time to grab one of the open jobs that will soon follow.

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