Construction spending in January was unchanged from December and was moderately higher than in January 2017, according to an analysis of new government data by the Association.
President Donald Trump on Monday offered the possibility of lifting his proposed steel and aluminum tariffs if NAFTA is renegotiated to terms more favorable to the US. Imposition of the tariffs could slowdown infrastructure projects, industry has warned.
“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.
Last week, President Trump had said he would impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports. Over the weekend, his advisors clarified that no country would be exempted from the impending tariffs.
Industry reaction has been mixed, with construction folks warning that such a measure could slow down building of infrastructure projects while some manufacturers said it would shore up American economy, helping create new jobs and preserving national security.
Associated General Contractors of America had earlier called on the White House and federal agencies to avoid triggering a “trade war.”
“Making construction, infrastructure and development projects more expensive by imposing new trade barriers will do far more damage to the economy than any limited benefits new tariffs or quotas might provide,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.
“Worse, increasing the cost of construction will only undermine the President’s ambitions to rebuild the nation’s aging and over-burdened infrastructure.”
Construction spending in January was unchanged from December and was moderately higher than in January 2017, according to an analysis of new government data by the Association. Further gains, especially in desperately needed infrastructure investment, would be in jeopardy if the administration adopts tariffs on key construction materials such as steel.
Meanwhile, news of the tariffs didn’t go over too well with Canada and Mexico – implying the possibility of a trade war.
“Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
“Any measure that will not exclude the North American partners will have tremendous consequences on how we’re integrated,” Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo told CNN’s Richard Quest Friday.