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Trade Wars Already Hurting U.S. Boating. Sales Are Cancelled, Layoffs Are Threatened

By Peter A. Janssen

The Trump Administration’s trade wars are already hurting U.S. boat manufacturers, as European and Canadian sales are cancelled because of higher tariffs. Some manufacturers say they will have to cut production and lay off workers if the trade wars continue.

In retaliation to the tariffs that President Trump imposed on some imports, the European Union has imposed a 25 percent tariff on sail- and power-boats built in the United States. For its part, Canada will start a 10 percent tariff on U.S.-made boats starting July 1. And Mexico has imposed a 15 percent tariff on U.S. boats.

The numbers involved are large. The U.S. exports $338.5 million worth of boats to the EU, $700 million to Canada, and $174.4 million to Mexico. And the consequences are dire. “A 25 percent import tax makes our products unmarketable,” said a spokesman for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

In Orlando, Florida, Duane Kuck, the CEO of Regal Boats, told the AP, “It’s hitting very hard and very quick.” The EU and Canada account for about 20 percent of Regal’s sales. If the tariffs last 60 days, Kuck said, the company would have to lay off about 40 employees. Regal will lose about $13 million this year if the tariffs continue, he said.

In Tampa, Florida, Peter Truslow, the CEO of Bertram Yachts (pictured above), told the AP that a customer had called from Monaco to cancel his contract for a $4 million, 61-foot yacht because of the tariff. The EU accounts for about 15 percent of Bertram’s sales. Truslow said the people who will suffer most are the factory workers – “they’re hourly, hard-working guys, the same as you’d see in a car manufacturer.”

And two European contracts were just cancelled at Carver Yachts in Pulaski, Wisconsin, because of the tariffs.

Meanwhile, the heads of European and international boating associations are working with the NMMA in the U.S. for a “de-escalation” of the trade wars. They wrote the president of the EU warning that the tariffs have “frozen” the importation of boats built in the U.S. “Nobody wins in a trade war,” they said. Read more:



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