Sorry Mr. Trump, we’re not “Chinese propaganda” on trade

This week, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to denounce several articles in the Des Moines Register as Chinese “propaganda ads” because of the facts presented on trade and tariffs.

Included was an article written by the Consumer Choice Center that revealed the impact of tariffs on communities in North and South Carolina, which could affect up to 150,000 jobs in the chemicals, transportation equipment, and machinery industries that rely on exports, more than 36 percent of them in the Charlotte area.

“There is no Chinese conspiracy on trade. The real conspiracy is against the American people, who suffer when tariffs are enacted and goods are made more expensive,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group located in Washington, D.C.

“The fact that the president would characterize factual analysis on the impact on workers and consumers as ‘Chinese propaganda’ reveals that this trade war has not been thought out. Ordinary men and women across America have to pay higher prices for products when tariffs are enacted in order to offset the imposed taxes. Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple.

“Pointing out the economic lunacy of enacting a trade war that will impact small and medium-sized businesses across the country, including the employees in those firms and at firms that rely on them, is vital and necessary, and the Consumer Choice Center will never cease from doing so,” said Ossowski.

“That’s why we launched the #freetrade4us campaign, and why we are seeing such great response from the consumers we represent who have already signed our petition for more free trade, not less.

“We hope the president reverses his policies on trade and tariffs and allows American businesses and consumers to enjoy low prices and free trade that can make everyone more prosperous.”

How the Carolinas could suffer from Trump’s tariffs

In the last election and on the global stage, President Donald Trump talked tough on trade. It’s us versus them and we’re losing, he says. Put simply, he views the current trade deficit, when we import more from a country than we export to it, as detrimental to American jobs. Since January, that trade deficit is $264.4 billion.

Our biggest trading partners, China, Canada, Mexico, and Japan have been able to sell more to us than we’ve sold to them, and that has left us worse off, says Trump. Tariffs, taxes placed on specific products that enter our country, will help balance that.

But that isn’t true.

To begin, tariffs raise costs for foreign firms, but that means that American businesses that rely on imports to source their products will themselves face higher costs. And that gets passed on to the consumer.

What’s more, globalization has made the cost of sourcing products from foreign markets much cheaper. Supply chains are now global, and that’s a good thing. It’s made products cheaper for consumers and producers alike.

In response, countries may retaliate. Then, we’re looking at all-out trade war. Kentucky bourbon, Harley Davidson motorcycles, cigars, and even peanut butter exported to the 28 European Union countries will have additional tariffs beginning Friday. Canada and China have threatened more.

That’s bad news for both workers and consumers, regardless of who fired the first shot.

North Carolina exports $32.6 billion of goods and services, according to the International Trade Administration. Over 150,000 jobs directly rely on exports of chemicals, transportation equipment, machinery and more. More than 36 percent of those originate from the Charlotte area.

Who will be the most affected by tariffs? Think beer drinkers and employees at automobile assembly plants, as well as pork farmers and agricultural machine companies. And everyone who depends on these industries.

North Carolina brewers have warned that tariffs on aluminum and steel will affect their bottom line, potentially raising the price of beer for you and me.

Daimler and its subsidiary Mercedes-Benz project that retaliatory tariffs will hurt profits. That affects plants in Gastonia, Cleveland, High Point, and Mount Holly, and Charleston and Gaffney in South Carolina, which employ more than 6,500 people. Thousands more will be indirectly affected.

Both states voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Why would he punish those voters with tariffs that will hurt investment and affect jobs?

There are thousands of goods produced here that rely on parts, commodities and special technologies from abroad. And millions of consumers and workers depend on trade of those goods for their well-being.

The U.S. is the dominant economic power because of decades of free trade and free enterprise. Workers and consumers in North and South Carolina benefit when products flow freely across our borders, and we’re better off for it. Tariffs are a step backward.

Yaël Ossowski is a Charlotte-area native, economic journalist and deputy director at Consumer Choice Center.

Original link: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article213598444.html

Boeing proves protectionism doesn’t pay

A stinging rebuke by the U.S. International Trade Commission last month was a hard defeat for Boeing.

The American aircraft manufacturer brought a case to the U.S. Department of Commerce last fall in hopes of sinking a deal with their Canadian competitor Bombardier to build narrow-body jets for Delta Airlines.

Agreeing with Boeing’s claims that Bombardier was “dumping” the planes in the U.S. at a cheaper price, the Department of Commerce promptly slapped a 300 percent tariff on the C-Series jets. But that decision was overturned by the ITC last month.

That was a cause for celebration in Canada as well as the United Kingdom, considering parts of the aircraft are fabricated in Belfast and upwards of 4,000 British jobs depend on the C-series jet project. In the U.S., thousands of consumers and travellers will soon benefit from a new fleet of aircraft.

On Feb. 13, we’ll learn the commission’s justifications for overturning the tariffs, which could prompt Boeing to take another approach to tackle its Montreal-based rival.

Beyond that report, what is clear now is that Boeing will have to compete if it wants to outperform the competition. Protectionism, though the mantra in Trump’s D.C., won’t pay. Crony capitalism cannot, in itself, be the main tool used by an international firm that wants to compete in today’s global economy. Entering the arena of politics can have serious blowback.

That’s a lesson the Chicago-based firm will certainly learn after causing flare-ups in London, Washington, and Ottawa. It even put Prime Minister Theresa May’s coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party, who vowed to protest those Belfast jobs, on shaky ground.

What’s more, the company’s protectionist play has put its lucrative defence contracts in harm’s way. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened to pull Boeing’s military contracts, and UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon said their actions “could jeopardise” Britain’s £500 million relationship with the aircraft firm to supply attack helicopters and aircraft.

For a company that relies on government contracts for a large chunk of its profits, this news is concerning.

If Boeing wants to stand its ground, it’ll have to work on rectifying these relationships. Putting jobs at risk in order to stake a monopoly isn’t a good look for business, and it is toxic in politics.

This will certainly serve as a warning to dozens of other multinational firms who hope to leverage trade by seeking government monopolies and tariffs targeted at their fierce competitors.

What this affair has proven, in due time, is that waging trade wars isn’t to anyone’s benefit, surely not consumers, workers, and citizens who have the most at stake.

Full article

Workers can’t afford tariffs or a trade war, President Trump

To the Trump protectionist hammer, every product imported looks like a nail.

On Monday, we learned that President Trump’s trade enforcer, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, announced new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines assembled outside the U.S.

For washers and dryers from companies such as Samsung and LG, steep tariffs as high as 50 percent will be applied while solar panels assembled abroad face a duty of 30 percent for the next year. These tariffs act as taxes on foreign companies who wish to do business in the U.S.

To the casual observer, the biggest losers of these tariffs appear to be India, Korea, and, most of all, China.

But considering that millions of American consumers depend on imports for dozens of their appliances and goods at home, these measures end up hurting them the most instead.

Nearly 95 percent of Americans shopped at a Walmart in 2016, a retailer which offers low prices by a vastly robust supply chain with links all over the world. Is it really inconceivable that prices would have to rise in order to overcome the import barrier imposed on the various actors in that supply chain?

Without question, targeted tariffs may benefit one particular American company by increasing the costs of doing business for its foreign competitors. But that means prices for ordinary consumers and businesses that depend on those imports must rise, making them less affordable.

An analysis by the Wall Street Journal on the effect of steel tariffs in 2014 demonstrated that the higher cost of imported steel raised prices as much as 60 percent on products which use steel as a base metal. Domestic steelmakers such as U.S. Steel may have gained in trade volume and stock price, but companies that rely on cheap steel for their products were forced to raise prices and restrict supply – and that was bad for American consumers.

When the Department of Commerce announced a 300 percent tax on imported jets from Canada, domestic airlines balked. And with good reason. Now they will have to pay a premium to source their fleets, causing the price of air travel to rise for ordinary consumers.

The fact that China subsidizes its various industries is no doubt a concern for American manufacturers, and it should be.

A look at the United States International Trade Commission’s website finds dozens of China’s alleged manipulations: aluminum and steel tubing, wooden cabinets, paper products, and fluorescent lights.

But though slapping tariffs on every product deemed harmful to American industry may be well-intentioned, it has a demonstrated negative effect on the consumers Trump purports to help.

Low tariff rates since the 1980s have been a boon to shoppers and domestic manufacturers who rely on imports to sell to Americans.

No doubt, throughout the course of his campaign, President Trump pledged his support for American workers in manufacturing. But with advances in technology and streamlined processes, our economy is beginning to produce more engineers than part-assemblers. And that allows more and more Americans to raise their standard of living at a fraction of the cost.

It’s been 88 years since the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff exacerbated the worst effects of the Great Depression, igniting an international trade war that made everyone worse off, as revealed in a 2003 paper by the New York Federal Reserve.

President Trump is still celebrating the victory he achieved with the massive tax overhaul in Congress, lowering taxes for entrepreneurs and workers across the country.

If Trump would like to help American workers, consumers, and companies, he’d be wise to not impose yet more government regulation and taxes on the imports that so many of us rely on.

A tariff, we should remember, is just another name for a tax.

Yaël Ossowski (@YaelOss) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center and a senior development officer at Students For Liberty.

Original link: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/workers-cant-afford-tariffs-or-a-trade-war-president-trump/article/2646883

Free Trade For Us is a single-issue campaign produced by the Consumer Choice Center and supported by partners to raise awareness about the positive impact of free trade and to show policymakers all over the world that the millennial generation is united against tariffs, trade barriers, and retaliatory measures that only hurt consumers and workers.