March at-a-glance…materials & handling

NAFEM advocates to lift steel tariffs; experts expect prices to fall

Several strategic operations consultancies and industry publications expect steel prices to retreat in Q2, including FitchRatings, IHS Markit and The Fabricator. In the meantime, NAFEM continues to work with the Coalition of American Metals Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU) and the Tariff Reform Coalition (TRC) to pressure the Biden administration to lift the tariffs which, we believe, are contributing to the steel shortage. NAFEM also is meeting regularly with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to identify potential advocacy opportunities to help members secure needed materials.

NAFEM also developed a briefing paper on “Why recent tariffs harm our economy” with the Trade Relief Coalition (TRC) and shared data on the negative consequences of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. See Amplifying Members’ Voices for more information.

California extends deadline to March 29 to comment on proposed Prop 65 changes

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is considering revising Proposition 65 “short-form” warnings for consumer products and eliminating them for catalog or internet purchases. Many business use the short-form warnings to comply with requirements to include warning labels to notify consumers of exposure to more than 900 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Comments on OEHHA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are now due by March 29.

Biden signs Executive Order to strengthen U.S. supply chains

President Biden stated his intent to strengthen the resilience of America’s supply chains “to foster collective economic and national security and strengthen the capacity to respond to international disasters and emergencies” in a Feb. 25 Executive Order. The president called for a 100-day review of supply chain risks for a number of items, including semi-conductors, high-capacity batteries, critical minerals and other rare earth elements, and pharmaceuticals and their ingredients. The order also calls for an assessment of supply chain risks for a number of industries, including public health, energy, transportation and agriculture.

Expect shipping rates to remain high for the foreseeable future

Global shipping challenges are expected to be further exacerbated when Americans begin to spend their latest American Rescue Plan stimulus checks. This well-research article in FreightWaves summarizes the situation and explains why the issues are likely to continue for some time.