Various industry groups warmly greeted President Bush's decision to remove the tariffs on imported steel, imposed in March 2002 following a determination that imports were injuring the U.S. steel industry. Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) President and CEO Timothy C. MacCarthy characterized the President's announcement as "a decision that is legally, politically and economically correct and one that will have an important, positive impact on the U.S. economy." MacCarthy added that "while the temporary tariffs may have helped the steel industry adjust to new competitive conditions, they also have harmed steel consuming industries, including motor vehicles manufacturers and their suppliers by artificially constraining supply and contributing to higher domestic prices." International automakers currently produce nearly three million cars and trucks each year in the United States. Ninety percent of the steel used in this production is purchased in the United States.The Automotive Coalition on Steel Tariffs (ACST), representing manufacturers of automotive parts and components, also lauded the decision, saying it marks a strong stride forward in the Administration's efforts to aid U.S. manufacturing and to help ensure a robust economic recovery. The steel tariffs, which ran as high as 30 percent, caused large increases in raw material costs to automotive suppliers and aftermarket equipment manufacturers as well as disruptions in supply and steel quality problems."American automotive parts manufacturers and our workers are very pleased by the President's decision," said Scott Meyer, President and COO of Ken-Tool and chairman of ACST. "The tariffs created additional challenges to our industry's competitive stance and potential growth. The President's decision is going to help keep jobs and production in America and to help us effectively compete on the global playing field."President's Bush's original mandate included a provision, requiring a midterm review of the tariffs in 2003. On September 19, 2003, the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a report, as part of the midterm review, demonstrating $680 million in losses to automotive parts suppliers and other steel consumers as a result of the Section 201 tariffs. As required by the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, the ITC also included an analysis on the unintended effects of the steel safeguard tariffs on consuming industries after a strong effort on behalf of automotive parts and component manufacturers and other steel consumers -- led by Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) in the House and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in the Senate."Congressman Knollenberg has been a tremendous champion for our industry since the beginning," Meyer said. "He understood what we were going through and that the entire situation with the tariffs was unsustainable. Moreover, Sen. Alexander's ceaseless efforts to bring the facts to the attention of the Administration and to highlight the specific plight of auto parts manufacturers in his home state through numerous statements on the Senate floor were critical to reaching this final resolution. Their work has helped us to maintain good manufacturing jobs in the United States. We greatly appreciate the efforts of these two individuals as well as those of many other members of Congress."In the ITC report, nearly three-fourths of automotive parts and component manufacturers reported hikes in contract prices for steel. The study also noted that 87 percent of manufacturers of automotive products reported that steel prices in the United States were higher than global prices and 31 percent reported that their customers were now buying finished parts or assemblies overseas as a result of the tariffs.