Three Arkansas companies say they'll close if Trump doesn't give them exemption from steel tariffs

Three Arkansas companies say they'll close if Trump doesn't give them exemption from steel tariffs
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Three manufacturing companies in Arkansas say they need an exemption from the Commerce Department from President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE's new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports or they will be forced to close.

Arkansas Online reports that three tire-cord manufacturers, Bekaert Corp., Kiswire America and Tokusen USA, have jointly requested an exemption from Trump's tariffs, specifically on "grade 1078 and above wire rod for tire cord." The three companies argue that U.S.-based steel producers are unable to manufacture the quality their company needs.

"Stated simply, U.S. wire rod producers are incapable of producing grade 1078 and above wire rod to produce tire cord because that grade of wire rod must be produced in basic oxygen furnaces to achieve the strength, cleanliness and other properties to draw the wire rod to tire cord dimensions," lawyers for the three companies told Arkansas Online.

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Basic oxygen, or blast, furnaces, are rare in the U.S. but have seen a growth in activity under the Trump administration's policies meant to help the steel industry.

In March, U.S. Steel announced it would restart a blast furnace at a facility in Granite City, Ill. The facility employs about 500 workers. 

The Wire Rod Coalition, a U.S. coalition of wire rod producers, filed an objection to the three companies' request, arguing that the necessary grade 1078 and above wire rod can be produced through alternative methods more readily available in the U.S.

"Grade 1078 and above tire cord wire rod can be and is produced using electric arc furnace steel," an attorney for the Wire Rod Coalition wrote in a formal objection.

Trump's tariffs on aluminum and steel were implemented last week and caused an uproar among U.S. allies who said they were being unfairly targeted.

"Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference last week.

"Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. defense industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks," Trudeau added. "That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable."