Alaska companies weigh in on steel tariffs
President Trump's announcement that he is putting tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are raising concerns that consumers will be the ones to bear the cost of rising prices. But not everyone agrees on how big the impact will be in Alaska.
Richard Faulkner owns STEELFAB in Anchorage, the largest locally owned steel fabricator in the state. Faulkner buys steel from distributors in the Lower 48 for use in his business but says only a small percentage comes from foreign sources. He says it's likely the tariffs will lead to higher prices but doesn't think the impact will be huge for most consumers.
"I just think people are getting themselves worked up into a lather for not much of anything yet," said Faulkner.
In Alaska, large construction projects where the cost of steel could be an issue have mostly tapered off. But, even some of the smaller players have concerns.
Karen Michelsohn is president of the Anchorage Homeowners Association and also owns a construction company. She said steel figures into every home they build or remodel from the nails and screws down to the foundation. When prices go up, she says her clients end up paying more.
"All of that eventually gets trickled back down to the consumer," said Michelsohn.
Other consumers who may feel the pinch are people shopping for appliances. Kyle Mirka, owner of Allen and Petersen, said he hasn't gotten an official word that things like refrigerators or ranges will go up, but he's pretty certain they will.
"Without a doubt, if you are buying something that has steel or aluminum in it, the price will go up," said Mirka.
But how much prices will rise is still a question that no one can answer for sure. President Trump's tariffs are supposed to take effect in two weeks. He's already granted exemptions to two countries, Canada and Mexico, and opened the door for others to make their case that they should be exempt, too.
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