WATERTOWN — New York Air Brake will receive an exemption to the tariffs imposed last year on speciality aluminum and steel stock it uses to manufacture its air brake systems.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Friday that the manufacturer’s request for waivers from 20 tariffs governing a variety of materials was approved following his meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The company and senate minority leader has been pushing for the exemptions, which would mitigate rising production costs, for six months.
“I’m so glad to hear that (trade representative) Lighthizer agrees with me, and will be leveling the playing field by exempting (Air Brake) from these costly tariffs,” Sen. Schumer said in a statement. “(Air Brake) has been a mainstay of the North Country for more than 125 years, I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail to ensure it is protected from burdensome tariffs that their competition isn’t forced to pay.”
The Watertown-based manufacturer purchases materials from Chinese suppliers to assemble into its railcar brake system products stateside. The 25 percent tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel raised the price of the manufacturer’s raw material purchases, affecting its bottom line. Without exemptions, the company stood to lose and estimated $6 million.
The tariffs also placed New York Air Brake at a disadvantage compared with one of its largest competitors, freight car product manufacturer Wabtec Corp., Wilmerding, Pa. Both companies rely on the same Chinese raw material suppliers to manufacture their products, but Wabtec purchases them in Mexico, allowing it to avoid tariffs. Wabtec also performs assembly work and machining in Mexico using the Chinese raw materials it purchases.