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Tariff On Canadian Aluminum Took Toll In Oswego

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - The Trump Administration's decision to end the tariffs it had imposed on aluminum shipments from Canada is welcome news in Oswego, where the tax took a toll on two of the city's largest businesses.

Aluminum is what's referred to as a staple product at the Port of Oswego because it provides for a majority of the daily jobs there. So when President Donald Trump placed a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from Canada - the largest supplier of the metal to the U.S. - in 2017, Oswego Port Authority Director William Scriber says it took a big hit on the budget.

Because many of the aluminum suppliers were already under contract to ship the metal to the port by the end of 2017, the Port did not see much of a loss last year. But this year, imports of aluminum are down 50 percent from the same time in 2018.

"I’ve cut my labor force for the ILA, which is a local labor force longshoremen, 50 percent, we’re cutting expenses right now, delaying repairs we normally would have done, projects we would have started here have been delayed until we can generate a more positive revenue stream," Scriber said.

Even though the tariffs have now been lifted, Scriber doesn't expect any relief until later this year because many aluminum suppliers are already locked into contracts to haul the metal by other means.

The Port of Oswego brings in so much aluminum because of the Novelis plant that uses large quantities of the metal to prepare it for building cars, cans, and other products. In a statement, Novelis North American Senior Vice President and President Marco Palmieri, said the tariffs negatively impacted the Oswego plant because it's so closely intertwined with the company's facility in Canada, and the decision to end the tax is an important step.