Ford: US steel most expensive thanks to Trump tariffs

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
Rolls of steel weighing in at 20 tons or more await shipment at the NUCOR Steel Gallatin plant, Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in Ghent, Ky. The plant has been operating 24 hours a day seven days a week to meet the demand.

Wayne —  A Ford Motor Co. executive vice president says steel now costs more in the United States than any other place in the world thanks to President Donald Trump's tariffs on imported steel.

U.S. steel prices are "certainly up year over year, and they're up versus what we were expecting," Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of global operations, said Monday. "U.S. steel is costing more than anywhere else in the world."

Ford CEO Jim Hackett said previously that the steel and aluminum tariffs were projected to cost Ford $1 billion even though the automaker sources most of its steel and aluminum from U.S. companies.

Hinrichs said Ford officials have been talking to the Trump administration about the tariffs: "The government knows our position about where we need to be in order to be competitive globally. We tell them that we need to have competitive costs in our market to be able to compete around the world."

Ford, General Motors Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV all adjusted full-year earnings outlooks in the second quarter due to then-rising costs of steel and aluminum.

Hinrichs added that Trump's on-going trade war with China, the world's largest auto market, has also added uncertainty to Ford's global business. The automaker's U.S. exports to China are "down a little bit," Hinrichs said.

Whether the Trump administration will change things based on feedback from Ford officials regarding tariffs and trade remain an open question. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s assistant for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council, told The Detroit News last week that the automakers are "making money" despite hits from the tariffs.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau