Tariffs and the Manufacturing Industry

The tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump last year are raising a lot of debate concerning their outcome—some think these will invigorate the American steel industry, while others think we’re only hurting ourselves.


Engineering plays such a huge role in redefining the supply chain and altering the way things are made. Economists believe that these tariffs will indirectly impact the quality of products, the types of materials used and the use of new tools and techniques. Not to mention that taxing global trade is getting more and more complex. With geographical borders dissolving and high-tech engineering contributing to the price of end products, trade isn’t as simple as it used to be.

The most impactful tariff up for discussion is the tax on steel and aluminum, 25% and 10% respectively. This tax will affect everything from soda cans to cars and industrial equipment.

These tariffs are not expected to change the basic job of an engineer, but instead provide a path for engineers to rethink how their products are made. They’ll be encouraged by these tariffs to take new approaches to manufacturing in an effort to keep prices in check. Because of this, engineers will engage the supply chain in order to source cheaper parts or even different materials altogether.

The Good and the Bad

Trump’s point in imposing these tariffs is to encourage a more self-sufficient U.S. By imposing rigid tariffs on certain products from other countries, the hope is that threatened American industries will be saved, intellectual property will be more protected and there will be a stronger “made in the USA” mentality.

The problems with these tariffs arise with American companies that have their sourcing, manufacturing and assembling in other countries. This could cause some companies to move production to less expensive countries, promoting inefficiency in production. Essentially, products that come to us from China are often created by American firms—and both suffer under these new tariffs.

For the latest news and help with all things manufacturing, contact O’Neal Manufacturing Services today.