JOPLIN, Mo. — By 9 a.m. Friday, Greg Scheurich already had fielded his fifth call of the day from a metals importer trying to determine how President Trump’s new tariffs would work.
“It’s really confusing, tough to understand,” said Scheurich, president of CNC Machine Products, a manufacturer of bearing components.
For Scheurich, the perplexing thing about Trump’s tariffs on imported steel is that, in the name of helping U.S. steel makers, the president may be dooming some other American companies like his.
In the nation’s capital, the new import taxes are viewed as a turn by the United States toward economic nationalism as well as a chance for the president to deliver on a promise to his working-class constituency.
For Scheurich, 69, whose production of industrial parts depends almost entirely on importing specialized steel from Japan and Sweden, the restrictions on foreign-made metals pose a direct threat to his business. Though the president insists tariffs will force companies like his to “Buy American,” Scheurich confronts a more complex globalized reality.
“What people don’t understand about the steels I use is it doesn’t have anything to do with price. I’ve tried to find domestic sources,” he said. “ … I’m not importing it because of price. I’m importing it because of quality and (because) I can get it.”
Shifts in domestic steel industry force some American companies to shop overseas — and they could be hit hard by new Trump tariffs.