Three major industry associations today announced that they will work cooperatively to obtain relief for their members affected by the steel safeguard program, seek a closer review by the government on the effects of the program on producers of motor vehicle products, and discuss future policy options. The Section 201 tariffs on imported steel, implemented in March 2002, have adversely affected automotive suppliers across the nation. The announcement was made by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).Upon its introduction, the steel safeguard program imposed tariffs of up to 30 percent on imported steel and sparked an immediate increase in the price of steel in the United States. These raw material cost increases, as related to domestically produced steel, have ranged from 20 percent to 50 percent. The program continues to impose significant hardships on automotive product manufacturers, exposing them not only to climbing steel prices, but also to slower deliveries and widespread shortages.American producers of motor vehicle products, who traditionally purchase an estimated 95 percent of their steel from domestic sources, are facing a number of drastic measures such as layoffs, plant slowdowns and shutdowns, and profit warnings as a result of this program. U.S. suppliers have begun to lose business to foreign competitors who are able to purchase steel at global prices and who do not face the pressure of the tariffs. In many other cases, the squeeze on steel is forcing U.S. producers of motor vehicle products to import finished products that before were made in America.The Section 201 tariffs pose a critical threat to the overall U.S. automotive supply chain, which greatly depends on a just in time production system and on the availability of adequate quantities of high quality steel for its products.The associations' collaboration will strengthen this ongoing effort and benefit member companies by creating a more unified voice to address the impact of steel tariffs on producers of motor vehicle products. At the same time the associations will continue to support the administration in its efforts to find long-term solutions to the problem of excess global steel capacity.About the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association:The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) is a Bethesda, Md.-based association whose member companies manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment, materials and supplies. The organization is comprised of manufacturers, distributors, jobbers, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturer's representatives and other companies doing business in the automotive aftermarket. AAIA formerly served the aftermarket as APAA and ASIA.About the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association:Founded in 1904, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) exclusively represents and serves manufacturers of motor vehicle components, tools and equipment, automotive chemicals and related products used in the production, repair and maintenance of all classes of motor vehicles. Make MEMA your first call for global intelligence on the motor vehicle supplier industry, leading-edge market research, international business support, government representation, industry networking and commercial services. Experience MEMA, www.mema.org.MEMA is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and has offices throughout the world including in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Brazil. OESA, MEMA's affiliate association that exclusively serves automotive original equipment suppliers, is located in Troy, Mich.About the Specialty Equipment Market Association:SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, represents the $26 billion specialty automotive industry. The trade association has approximately 4,500 member companies. It is the authoritative source of research data, trends and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger cars, minivans, trucks, SUVs and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914; call 909-396-0289; or visit www.sema.org or www.enjoythedrive.com.