ABB chief warns over Trump’s steel tariffs

Jun 12, 2018
Companies
Posted by Patrick Haddad

ABB chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer has warned that thousands of jobs could be at risk if President Donald Trump continues with his plan to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Mr. Spiesshofer warned that ABB facilities producing high-specification power transformers would be impacted if the cost rises for the specific types of steel it imports from Europe and Japan.

“That specific steel is not being produced in sufficient quantities in the US. In fact, there is only one company that has pretty limited capacity,” said Mr. Spiesshofer.

The Swiss engineering firm employs around 20,000 people in the US, 4,000 of which make energy-efficient transformers, whose jobs may be “at risk” according to Mr. Spiesshofer. ABB is also near to signing a $2.6 billion deal to buy General Electric’s Industrial Solutions division.

However, Washington’s new tariffs, as well as uncertainty over the prospect of international trade wars, may cause difficulties for companies like ABB, who rely on steady global supply chains.

“It’s important that we have access to the appropriate raw materials, to products, that we can exchange components between different continents,” said Mr. Spiesshofer.

“As a business leader, we can deal with any regulatory regime, that’s fine . . . But what we need is predictability and reliability because then I can say ‘OK, I know how I invest, how I place jobs, how I allocate my capital’,”

“The last time we had tariffs on steel…jobs were destroyed, and we don’t want to have that.”

Source: Financial Times

Photo (for illustrative purposes): Spiesshofer Europa Forum Luzern/ Christof Wicki/ Wikimedia/ CC BY-SA 4.0

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