Today, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill testified at a hearing of the International Trade Commission (ITC) focused on a tariff on the imports of pure magnesium and magnesium alloy that affects several important manufacturers in Missouri who are also major employers. Because of the tariff, U.S. manufacturers that use magnesium to make car parts and other products are at a significant disadvantage relative to their foreign competition. The tariff was put in place in 2005 by the ITC after U.S. Magnesium, a domestic producer, complained that firms in China and Russia were selling raw materials below cost on the American market. The tariff is set to expire at the end of the year and today's hearing was intended to review the policy and decide whether to renew it. McCaskill urged the commission to let the tariff expire since renewing it would put 1000 jobs in Missouri in jeopardy.
"Some tariffs are important to the strength of American manufacturing, but in this instance, I ask the commission to look a the big picture and whether or not the disproportionate price of magnesium to these small manufacturing operations is in fact the side of the sword that we really should be worried about, because we all know this is a double edged sword," McCaskill said before the commission. "And so on behalf of all those small companies and all the wonderful hard-working Americans that have made wonderful products with magnesium over many decades, I ask you to allow this tariff to expire so these companies have a chance to continue to make products that are ... very important in our domestic auto production"
Magnesium die-casting plants use magnesium alloys to manufacture goods such as car parts. Die-casting companies in Palmyra, Mexico and Perryville, Missouri employ over 1000 people. Manufacturers say that this tariff essentially gives U.S. Magnesium a monopoly on production and raises the prices on raw products, making it difficult for die-casters to compete with overseas production. Last year, a die-casting plant in Monroe County closed, costing the county 186 jobs. Today, Monroe County has the highest unemployment in Northeast Missouri.