Aluminum and steel tariffs could weigh heavily on Colorado economy, except perhaps in Pueblo

The Denver Post

March 3, 2018

By Aldo Svaldi and Tamara Chuang

Broomfield-based Ball Corp. produces two out of every five aluminum beverage cans used in the United States, and the northern Front Range has one of the highest concentrations in the country of beverage industry workers filling those cans.

Across the Western Slope and in Weld County, petroleum producers are laying down hundreds of miles of steel pipe. And Vestas converts tons of steel into hulking wind turbines at plants in Windsor, Brighton and Pueblo.

Aerospace manufacturers along the Front Range are building rockets and satellites with imported metal, and more than 100 construction contractors specialize in putting steel into bridges and buildings.

All are waiting for details about the tariffs of 10 percent on imported aluminum and 25 percent on imported steel that the Trump administration plans to impose next week.

President Donald Trump has said the tariffs will resuscitate the country’s diminished steel and aluminum industries, boosting jobs and bolstering national security by ensuring adequate domestic supply. Notably, steelmaking once was a key industry in Pueblo, which voted for Trump in 2016 despite being a Democratic stronghold.

“As a leading manufacturer of beverage and food cans, we urge President Trump to exclude aluminum can sheet and tinplate steel for beverage and food containers from the tariffs that he announced will be imposed next week,” said Renee Robinson, director of corporate communications at Ball, which produces about 100 billion cans a year globally.

Robinson said those products have no national security applications, and tariffs will drive up costs for consumers.

Colorado’s beverage industry is especially at risk. Metro Denver and Fort Collins have the fourth-largest employment base in the beverage industry in the country with nearly 10,000 workers, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

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