Temporary lull doesn’t heal the wounds of trade war


President Trump hailed an agreement reached with China in late 2018 at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires to temporarily halt a scheduled tariff increase for 90 days as “one of the largest deals ever made” and claimed China would be “getting rid of tariffs.” 

If you read the news headlines, you might have thought the trade war was likely going to end. One read, “Trump leaves G-20 with China truce.” Another proclaimed, “U.S., China agree trade war ceasefire after Trump, Xi summit.”

The truth is less glamorous.

Despite the “truce,” the administration still hasn’t done anything to roll back tariffs on Chinese imports that are hurting American consumers, businesses and workers. Every tariff levied since the beginning of the trade war is still in place.

The two sides did agree to halt for 90 days a rate increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on certain goods that was scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2019. If the United States and China fail to reach a long-term agreement within those 90 days the tariff rate on those goods will increase to 25 percent after all. 

In other words: The threat to millions of American jobs and our economy remains. 

Together, our trade associations represent more than 1 million American equipment manufacturing workers — the largest sector of manufacturing jobs in the country — and hundreds of product lines.

The surest way to allow American manufacturing companies and jobs to thrive is to end the trade war for good and remove the tariffs causing increased costs and market-distorting effects.

We urge the president to use the 90-day negotiation period to reach a deal that takes tariff increases off the table for good, ends the threat of new tariffs and finally brings an end to the crippling tariffs we are facing right now. 

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a nationwide campaign against tariffs released new data compiled by the Trade Partnership showing that the current level of tariffs on various fronts are causing major damage to our economy.

In October alone, American businesses paid $6.2 billion in tariffs — the largest amount for any month in history. Those tariffs aren’t just driving up the cost of doing business, but they are also causing major damage to overseas markets where American companies are now facing retaliatory tariffs on their products.

The Trade Partnership data found that exports subject to retaliatory tariffs plummeted by 37 percent last month. 

The $6.2 billion figure is alarming on its face, but those numbers still don’t tell the full story when it comes to the pain manufacturers are feeling. Tariffs don’t just raise prices on imported materials, they also drive up prices for domestic material as we have seen with steel costs.

The looming threat of tariffs increasing from 10 percent to 25 percent will further place an overwhelming burden on consumers and U.S. manufacturing jobs due to these rising costs.

We support fair and equitable trade policies that allow American companies to compete across the globe. But tariffs have already proven counterproductive at creating a level playing field with other countries. It’s time to end the trade war before its effects become too devastating for American businesses to overcome.

Dennis Slater is president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Bill Long is executive vice president, government affairs, of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturing Association (MEMA).

Tags Customs duties Donald Trump economy input costs International relations International taxation International trade Tariff Tariff in United States history Trade wars Trump tariffs

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