Pineapple cans
not in latest tariff

Maui Land & Pine will see higher
costs from duties on foreign steel

By Dave Segal

Maui Land & Pineapple Co., hoping to win additional relief from imported steel tariffs, didn't make the cut this week on the U.S. Commerce Department's new exemption list of 46 foreign steel products.

Maui Land & Pineapple Still, the operator of the state's last remaining pineapple cannery is hoping its exemption request for the material used to make its cans will be approved when the final list is released by July 3.

"As we understand it, the (latest) list of exemptions do not apply to the types of steel Maui Land & Pineapple imports from Japan," said Paul Meyer, chief financial officer of the company. "We are, however, hopeful that our requests for exemption will be granted and we believe those exemptions are appropriate."

In March, President Bush imposed steel tariffs ranging up to 30 percent in order to give the U.S. steel industry time to restructure after a five-year period that saw more than 30 companies file for bankruptcy. The U.S. Commerce Department, which has received more than 2,000 product exemption requests, has been trying not to undermine the tariffs while at the same time attempting to make sure domestic steel-consuming companies have adequate supplies. There are more than 1,000 exemption requests still pending.

The latest 46 products "were excluded because it was determined that they are not sufficiently available from U.S. producers and that excluding those products would not undermine the effectiveness of the safeguard on steel products," the Commerce Department said.

A Maui Land & Pineapple subsidiary imports the steel from Japan to make its pineapple cans and received partial relief in March when lithographed thin-plated steel, which is used to make the can's lid, was granted an exemption from tariffs.

The material used to make the lid is considered a different category of material than the rest of the can because it is lithographed with the 100 percent Hawaiian logo on it.

Still, without an exemption for the tin-coated steel used in the rest of the can, the company's expenses would greatly increase. The tariff would cost Maui Land & Pineapple an additional $300,000 this year and an extra $1.2 million in 2003, according to the company's latest quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We feel that the steel which is incorporated into our cans should be exempted because the can is a unitary container and to have one part of the container exempt from duties and another part not just doesn't make any sense," Meyer said.

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