After a blockbuster year, industry sources say a trade war could put the brakes on the U.S. boating industry.
Several boat dealers in Minnesota have already reported higher prices on 2019 orders and wonder if more increases are on the way, according to an article in the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper. U.S. boat sales were at record levels last year, but watercraft manufacturers hit a speed bump this month when new U.S. trade tariffs went into effect for aluminum and steel imports.
Europe, Canada and Mexico have retaliated with new taxes of their own on a host of U.S. made goods including metals, bourbon, soybeans and boats. Some industry watchers are alarmed. About 40 percent of all U.S. boats are made of aluminum and about 10 to 15 percent get exported to customers in other countries.
The article quotes Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), who says many international boat orders were canceled as of last week, including 500 boats to Canadian dealers and millions in sales of yachts that would have gone to Europe.
“If this goes on for only 90 days, it is not that concerning,” says Dammrich. “But if it persists, then it’s very concerning. Right now, nobody knows” how long the trade war will last.
This month, NMMA members reported that some aluminum sheet-metal prices jumped 25 and 30 percent, even when sourced from U.S. metal producers.
Several dealers in Minnesota have already reported higher prices on 2019 orders and wonder if more increases are on the way. State statistics show Minnesota has the most registered boats at 826,000 than any state but Florida.
According to the NMMA, new U.S. boat sales reached a record $13.5 billion in 2017. With more than 90 percent of powerboats made in the U.S., exports of boats jumped 9.4 percent to $1.3 billion last year. Imports of boats, engines and other parts and materials for the industry hit a record $3 billion last year.