US boat manufacturers face higher costs due to tariffs

Global Business

US boat manufacturers face higher costs due to tariffs

U.S. boat manufacturers are facing higher prices for raw materials and parts because of tariffs implemented by the Trump administration.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has called the tariffs are a “disaster” for America’s recreational boating industry, which it values at $39 billion. 

CGTN’s Steve Mort reports.

At one of his two boat manufacturing facilities in Florida, Chad Kovarik points out all the parts on his boats that are made from aluminum and steel.

“It’s powder coated, but underneath it’s aluminum, and this aluminum comes from Canada,” he said, pointing to a section of roof. “All the hardware and engines, they’re all made of stainless steel. [It] comes from China, of course. The rod holders are made in aluminum. We have over 500 nuts and bolts and screws in each boat. You can’t even buy them in the United States. They’ve got to come from China.”

Kovarik owns Action Craft Boats – a company that makes recreational boats in Cape Coral. He said he’s seen prices on some of the parts he buys increase by up to 12 percent.

“The tariffs on aluminum and steel actually has an impact on us. It causes some of our prices to go up and our customer base doesn’t necessarily want to pay that extra for those prices. But I don’t think we have a choice,” he said.

The U.S. has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of other Chinese imports, including boat motors, engine parts and navigational equipment.

Sean Snaith, Director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida, said the boat manufacturing industry is one of several facing rough waters because of tariffs. “Some companies will just have to eat the higher cost and, of course, that will come out of the bottom line,” he said. “Those companies that are using imported products that are subject to tariffs will have to reevaluate whether they’re going to continue to use the same suppliers.”

But while Kovarik said he is concerned about the potential impact of tariffs on his bottom line, he is willing to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt. “I do think it’s the right thing to do. I think President Trump is doing the right thing. It’s just the short term that we’ve got to get through,” he said.

Kovarik said he gives the Trump administration 12 months to resolve its trade disputes, and bring prices back to pre-tariff levels. He predicted if tariffs remain in place over the long-term, it will become much more challenging for boat manufacturers to stay afloat.