‘A Leaf in the Wind': Texas Companies Face Uncertainty in Winning Exemptions From Trump's Tariffs

WASHINGTON — In the blustering trade tiff between the U.S. and China, Houston-based McMahon Steel Supply is “just a leaf in the wind.”That’s how company vice president Ronnie Smith says it feels to be a 15-employee, family-owned outfit that is dealing with a new 25 percent tariff on the steel it imports from Japan and other locales — steel the company “simply can’t secure here” in the U.S.The distributor is among the many operations in Texas and beyond now asking the Commerce Department for product-specific exclusions to the import levies on steel and aluminum.But that already time-intensive process has proved unwieldy, with the feds getting swamped by thousands of exemption requests. The overall trade scene remains unsettled as President Donald Trump has stoked tension not only with China, but also with U.S. allies in Europe and North America.And as companies like McMahon Steel Supply wait to learn if they will receive relief, many are already feeling the toll.“We can’t eat the cost,” said Smith, who oversees McMahon Steel Supply’s operations and sales. “We have to tell our customers, ‘There’s nothing we can do. We need to increase prices.’”  Continue reading...

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