Trump tariffs and retaliatory tariffs are no big deal for Mississippi say key Republican leaders. “Everything will work out,” is their mantra.
Meanwhile, Trump tariffs kicked in June 1st on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on June 5th, Canada will on July 1st, and the EU will later in July. Trump also is moving to impose 25% tariffs on an array of China exports. China promised quick retaliation.
“I do not think there will be a trade war,” Sen. Roger Wicker told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, expressing confidence that “the end result will be better opportunities for Mississippi businesses, farmers and consumers.” Rep. Trent Kelly said, “Now is the time for patience and to let the president do his job and negotiate on behalf of the American people.” Gov. Phil Bryant said, ““President Trump puts American workers and businesses first, and his policies continue to bear that out,” pointing to Mississippi’s low unemployment.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith showed some concern. She told the Meridian Star Trump tariffs could hurt the state in the short term, but believed Trump’s efforts could be beneficial in the long term.
Business leaders aren’t as sanguine about Trump tariffs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed concern that 2.6 million American jobs could be at risk. The defense industry expressed concern about increased costs for steel and aluminum and the impact on global supply chains and risks to exports. The U.S. Farm Bureau expressed serious concerns to Congressional committees.
Mississippians should be concerned too.
The Daily Journal reported $113 million in goods exported from Mississippi to Canada at risk from tariffs, adding those exports come from nearly 2,200 Mississippi-based companies about 77% of which were small- and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.
Mississippi’s $1.1 billion dollar soybean industry would be affected by retaliatory tariffs. More than 110 million bushels were produced in the state in 2017 from 3,274 farms. About half are exported, mostly to China, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and Taiwan. In general, farmers worry that retaliatory tariffs will make the things they grow sell for less and steel and aluminum tariffs will make the things they buy cost more.
Mississippi’s growing tire and automobile sector is at risk from steel tariffs and retaliatory auto tariffs. Even Mississippi’s emerging brewery industry would be impacted, according to Lucas Simmons, president of Lucky Town Brewing Company in Jackson.
Republican leaders from other states are standing up to Trump on tariffs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Kentuckians, as reported by CNN, “I hope we pull back from the brink here because these tariffs will not be good for the economy.” House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said, “I disagree with this decision.” Others speaking out include House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
You’d think Mississippi Republican leaders would be standing up too, instead of timidly hoping Trump is just bluffing to gain trade concessions.
» Bill Crawford (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.
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