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How Tariffs Could Harm Port Of Tampa Bay And Local Construction


The new 25% and 10% tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, respectively, stand to put a dent in business at the Port of Tampa Bay, which is Florida's largest port for handling steel products and getting larger. 

Just last summer, the port announced a 25-year lease with Steelco Florida for a 35-acre site at Port Redwing, a port property in southern Hillsborough County. Steelco is building a facility on the site to import, export and manufacture steel products.

Steel imports come from various parts of the world to Tampa Bay, mostly countries that do not have exemptions from the tariffs as yet, such as Turkey, Brazil and Italy.

All together, about 330,000 tons of imported steel products passed through the Port of Tampa Bay during the port's last fiscal year alone. That is an increase of about 33% from the previous year, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports, citing the locally based Titan Metal Services as an importer that stands to be affected by the tariff.

Titan Metal Services uses about 3,000 to 4,000 tons of steel each month, but only a quarter of that total comes from domestic sources, according to company President Christopher Bush. The company has a 50K SF processing facility at the port. 

Higher-cost steel would probably impact Tampa's busy construction industry most of all, Bush said, though not until the current steel imports under contract have been delivered. Afterward, the construction industry faces a steep hike in the price of steel or perhaps shortages.