Some U.S. companies anxious for exclusions from Donald Trump's tariffs are turning to creative ways to get the president's attention.One Texas steel pipe maker is promising that it will invest millions and hire new workers in return for a temporary break on tariffs. It's also offering its employees cash prizes for writing the best postcards to Trump advocating for their case.Other companies are encouraging workers and customers to join letter-writing campaigns and are teaming up with lawmakers to lobby on their behalf.“I didn't know that this would do anything, and I still don't know, but I've got a good feeling about it,” said Joel Johnson, CEO of Borusan Mannesmann Pipe U.S. Inc., which is pitching the investment deal to Trump for its pipe mill and finishing facilities in Baytown, Texas. “I can't stand by and just not do anything.”'The Commerce Department has been flooded with almost 19,000 requests so far to have products excluded from Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. Borusan Mannesmann and other companies are resorting to unconventional means to persuade the administration that the duties, which are intended to help manufacturing, will actually hurt U.S. production and jobs.

'Pretty Painful'

“It's already pretty painful to begin with, and if we don't get the exclusion, it's going to be worse for us,” said Ty Taylor, president of South Carolina-based Greenfield Industries Inc., who said that the tariffs are cutting into the company's profits. Greenfield has asked employees and salespeople to write letters seeking support for more than 1,100 exclusion requests.“We almost feel like the government's telling us we need to stop manufacturing here and move our manufacturing offshore,” Taylor said.Companies are asking for exclusions from the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum that Trump imposed in March and expanded on June 1 by removing temporary country exemptions for the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. Requests can be approved if the needed raw material isn't produced in the U.S. in a sufficient amount or quality, or for a specific national security reason.

Exclusions Deal

Borusan Mannesmann, which wants exclusions for the pipe it imports from its parent company in Turkey, is facing added annual costs of $25 million to $35 million from the tariffs, Johnson said. The company has pledged to spend $75 million on a new mill and finishing facility and hire as many as 170 workers if it gets the exclusions, including a previously planned $25 million investment.To drum up support for its request, the company collected 4,500 postcards from its 275 employees and their relatives. They wrote to 15 officials, including Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a former governor of Texas. The idea is “to get the government's ear,” the company said.Borusan Mannesmann is holding two contests with cash prizes totaling $6,250 for the best-written postcards, as well as for the best submission from an employee's child and other family member. Workers were encouraged to describe what they do, what their job means to them, and what opportunities a new factory would offer them.

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