This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: President Donald Trump’s administration recently imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Have those or any other measures taken by the administration affected your business? If not, are there changes you would like to see the administration make?
The tariffs have affected our industry in the form of price increases. Many food service wraps and containers are made of aluminum. Still, it is a small price to pay for the long-term success of domestic manufacturing.
Armando Caceres, CEO, founder, All Florida Paper
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It is important to note that President Trump not only imposed new duties on steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent) but has also placed absolute quotas on how much certain countries are allowed to export to the United States. In response to the president’s measures, many of our important trade partners have vowed to impose higher tariffs on U.S. products exported into places such as the EU, Mexico and Canada. The ultimate result: higher prices for the domestic consumer and lower demand for U.S. exports. This affects us all.
Ralph De La Rosa, president, CEO, Imperial Freight
The majority of our clients are manufacturers of aluminum architectural products. Some complete their products in the U.S., and others produce everything overseas. Our clients have generally told us that they are not overly worried about the tariffs. I think that the impact of the tariffs will be better gauged once they are in effect.
Jalal Farooq, principal, Al-Farooq Corporation
There is a great deal of speculation going on as trade talks continue. We are monitoring the process so that we can keep businesses in Miami-Dade informed as final changes to existing trade agreements are announced.
Michael A. “Mike” Finney, president, CEO, Miami-Dade Beacon Council
I would like to see the administration promote immigration laws that are consistent with the country’s values and immigrant heritage, including finding a solution to DACA that allows the DREAMers to fully integrate into the only country they know as home.
Dr. Julio Frenk, president, University of Miami
Because we are in the cigar industry, the new tariffs on steel and aluminum have not affected our business, but I am happy the U.S. government has made this change. For too long, other countries have taken advantage of our policies and used them against us. The change I would really like to see from this administration is to rid the premium cigar industry of the tariff, taxes and restrictions that hinder the growth of the industry. Currently, premium cigars are being unfairly over-regulated because of the FDA’s attempt to manage the popularity, particular among kids, of e-cigarettes. Premium cigars are getting lumped in with products that are nothing like cigars in use, marketing or makeup. I am also glad that Trump is focused on deregulation and understands its importance to our economy.
Kaizad Hansotia, founder, CEO, Gurkha Cigars
I spoke to a large Florida home builder who is experiencing significant increases in material costs — 30 to 35 percent increases in lumber and steel prices, respectively. Aluminum prices are up 25 percent year over year. This will ultimately translate to higher home prices and lower sale volumes. I am concerned about the impact; any sustained slowdown in home building will be a significant headwind for the local economy.
Javier Holtz, chairman, CEO, Marquis Bank
Tariffs placed on steel and aluminum will drive up the price of raw materials used in construction. We are seeing this concern being a topic of discussion but not necessarily being priced into the trades. Since the new construction pipeline is declining, reduction in other trades may help offset any rising material prices. The decrease in demand may also require subcontractors to start working for more modest margins to win business, which may also offset increased cost of materials.
Camilo Miguel Jr., founder, CEO, Mast Capital
Any actions taken to decrease access to affordable health care would detrimentally impact Imalac’s ability to ensure that our innovative technology be available to women regardless of their socioeconomic status. In 2012, the Affordable Care Act provided for mandatory coverage of breast pumps and accessories. The incidence of successful breast feeding is lower in the under-served community, which traditionally has less support. It is estimated that the U.S. alone would save more than over $13 billion annually in health-related expenses if women breast fed exclusively for six months.
Noreen Sablotsky, founder, CEO, Imalac