For many in the commonwealth, our nation’s ongoing trade war couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Now is the time to end the tariffs and reduce trade barriers, starting with the U.S.-China trade talks, before matters get worse.
“I’ve been a farmer for 36 years full-time, and this is the worst year I’ve ever seen it,” said Rick Ebert, a dairy farmer and president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
Rick Mains, a soybean farmer in Newville, said the tariffs “hit at a time when economically it’s hurting everybody — beef, poultry, crops are taking a hit. It’s the worst time to have tariffs.” Another soybean farmer, Daryl Alger of Lebanon County, reported that he could lose up to $700,000 as a result of the combination of tariffs and excessive rains.
NLMK Pennsylvania, a steel company in Mercer County that makes flat-rolled steel, is spending $700,000 every day to deal with tariffs. JLG Industries, a Franklin County manufacturer, also is taking a hit. According to spokesperson Richard Wright, “We are paying tariffs on some imported steel, but at the same time, domestic steel prices have increased 50 percent in recent months because of tariffs … The increase in steel price has a significant impact on our product cost, makes us less competitive selling U.S. manufactured products globally and puts U.S. jobs at risk.”
Instead, countries retaliated with more tariffs, such as China hitting $60 billion in American goods. As a result, companies across America have higher costs and are considering raising prices on consumers or laying off workers.
These examples show what tariffs really are: a tax on American consumers and businesses. They drive up costs for goods bought here and impose obstacles that make it harder to sell goods overseas.
In addition, after a three-month delay and barring a major agreement between the two nations, U.S. levies on $200 billion in Chinese imports could increase from 10 percent to 25 percent. Although this increase has been delayed twice, it could still happen if it isn’t taken off the table altogether. That would almost certainly inspire another round of retaliation, worsening the situation. Things could get further out of hand, not just for Pennsylvania, but for everyone.
According to ImpactECON, a firm that provides global economic analysis, full implementation of the Trump administration’s threatened tariffs could cost every household in America $2,357 this year and might even cost 2.75 million Americans their jobs. The tariffs threaten the strong economy achieved through the administration’s tax-cutting and efforts to remove regulatory barriers.
Farmers will always have to deal with the weather. But the White House could do what it originally promised to do on trade — dispense with tariffs altogether. Tariffs hurt American producers and consumers, without addressing the heart of our trade ills. Instead, our leaders should work to eliminate trade barriers at home and abroad, starting with the U.S.-China trade talks. History has proven that’s a much surer path to prosperity for our country.