New Manitowoc president Aaron Ravenscroft said the company does not support tariffs as a remedy to level the playing field in the US crane market, writes D.Ann Shiffler, editor at ICST sister magazine American Cranes & Transport.
In a 10 August letter to customers, Ravenscroft said, ”In the current environment, we believe that tariffs would inhibit crane demand and further deteriorate already difficult market conditions.” American Cranes & Transport obtained a copy of the letter and authenticated it with Manitowoc. The letter reads:
“Last night, Manitowoc filed our final comments in the Department of Commerce’s investigation of mobile crane imports. As I previously communicated, Manitowoc filed a petition to request that Commerce investigate the impact of mobile crane imports on the domestic crane industry to ensure we are able to compete on a level playing field. Driven by foreign exchange rates and other factors, the industry has seen a significant increase in imports over the last decade while our export of cranes from the US has declined 80 percent. We do not believe that the US trade situation is fair and, as a result, our domestic workforce has been reduced over 40 percent.
Moreover, we believe the most effective remedy would be for the President to take concrete steps to stimulate demand, particularly for US-produced mobile cranes by;
(1) Enhancing Buy America/Hire America provisions for federally funded construction projects – these projects are funded by American taxpayers and should benefit the hard-working factory workers who pay those taxes.
(2) Increase infrastructure spending. It has been more than a decade since the US funded a major overhaul of our existing infrastructure. This would boost demand across our entire industry, and infrastructure spending is one of the few issues on which both major political parties agree.
(3) Provide grants for local R&D in the crane industry. We believe that these remedies would help stimulate demand in the crane industry as well as advance the industry with new technology that is developed in the US.
Manitowoc is not requesting tariffs as a remedy. In the current environment, we believe that tariffs would inhibit crane demand and further deteriorate already difficult market conditions.
Manitowoc is the only remaining 100 percent, American-owned crane company, and we have been close partners to the US military since 1961. Cranes are essential to our country, and we are simply requesting that the government level the playing field in an industry where we believe that the trade policies favor foreign manufacturers – our request is simply a step to defend our local workforce and to ensure the long-term viability of our company. In an industry where we believe that the trade policies favor foreign manufacturers – our request is simply a step to defend our local workforce and to ensure the long-term viability of our company.”