North American boatbuilders, their suppliers and even boaters themselves must remain diligent, vigilant and vocal in fighting what has been dubbed a “trade war on three fronts” that unfairly disadvantages recreational boating, according to the leadership of both the US and Canadian National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

In a webinar broadcast on Wednesday, NMMA Canada president Sara Anghel and US senior vice president of government affairs Nicole Vasilaros reviewed the status of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and retaliatory tariffs imposed by Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

Three different types of tariffs are being levied on aluminium. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 allows the president to restrict imports for national security, including economic security. The tariffs include 10% on imported aluminium and 25% on steel.

In April, the US Commerce Department announced the countervailing tariff amounts on aluminium sheet from China and a separate anti-dumping investigation to determine if China is dumping aluminium sheet is underway, which could lead to additional tariffs. Aluminium is used to build more than half of the boats in the US.

In response, Canada has imposed a 10% tariff, effective July 1, on a variety of US exports – including boat packages, the only recreational product affected – while the EU has imposed an immediate 25% tariff on US goods, with only boats and motorcycles targeted in the recreational sector. Mexico has placed a 15% tariff on all imported boats.

In 2017, US boat exports were up nearly 10%, equalling US$1.7bn. EU dealers and brokers have already begun cancelling boat orders.

The NMMA is urging its members to become very vocal and to contact members of Parliament and Congress to emphasise the impact of recreational boating on local, regional and national economies. Online petitions are being circulated for signatures and presentation to Premier Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump.

While most US builders source aluminium domestically, a combination of tariffs and demand have already seen prices increase by 20%.

NMMA officials fear the trade war could erase the gains realised by the boating industry in the past five years.