Recent news headlines around Trump’s stance on steel tariffs has likely got our members thinking about what it means for our New Zealand metal-based industry. And rightly so.

It’s important to note, that the details of Trump’s plans to apply the proposed steel (25%) and aluminium (10%) tariffs are not yet clear.

So with this in mind, it’s difficult to anticipate the ripple effects it may have. But one thing is very clear – we need to be prepared with a unified standpoint.

Reactions so far…

Many world leaders have responded with retaliatory trade positions and threatened trade wars. Recently, our Trade Minister, David Parker stated on Radio NZ, that NZ would not respond with a retaliatory position. Saying “we would certainly be advocating on behalf of the New Zealand steel industry that these tariffs if introduced [would] not apply to them”.

A top trade advisor to Trump, Peter Navarro, who heads the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, has since advised there will be no exemptions for any particular country. So, it seems likely that Minister Parker’s position won’t fare well within the framework that Trump’s advisors are contemplating.


How does this affect us in New Zealand?

Many countries, including NZ and Australia, have experienced issues with sub-standard steel and dumped or imported steel whose production has been highly subsidised by the home Government  (i.e. the Government where it was produced = countervailing). Such imports have a negative impact on locally produced steel and Government’s should rightfully be applying measures to ensure that free markets are competing on a level playing field, while product conformance and quality is maintained.

What Trump is proposing will certainly impact dumped and countervailed product but will also impact legitimate exports of high quality product, such as steel made here by New Zealand Steel.

HERA has always supported a free trade policy – even if it’s challenged our local industry to be internationally viable. However, this stance has always been with the understanding that our government upheld the principle of fair and equal trade and effectively protected local industry against any practices that undermined this.

Ensuring that we’re ready and able to respond to issues that affect legitimate exports effectively and quickly will be key moving forward.


Actively engage with Metals NZ so they can advocate for our industry

Our levy funding HERA allows us to facilitate research that will help support our industry in these changing trade conditions – but restricts us from taking a greater lead in the advocacy front.

That’s why it’s so important that we as an industry engage and back Metals NZ to ensure our stance and rights are protected at a higher level in Government agenda’s and policy formation.

Now more than ever, a coordinated effort across the metals industry through objective research, open dialogue and understanding is needed if Metals NZ is to successfully advocate on our behalf.

Going forward, we encourage our members to keep tabs on what is happening globally as a result of Trump’s proposed steel tariffs. While America may seem miles away from us, its fool hardy to think it won’t impact our local businesses in some way – particularly those exporting.


What can you do to help?

We want to make sure that Metals NZ can take an informed industry approach as they prepare responses and strong advocacy action in this area.

That’s why we’d encourage any of you who have any questions, concerns or feedback you’d like to share to contact Metals NZ Chief Executive Nick Collins on or by phone +64 9 262 4846 to discuss further.