Wisconsin companies have paid an additional $139 million on imports since the Trump administration began increasing tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese goods, according to estimates from a group advocating against the measures.
Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, which held a town hall earlier this year
at Waukesha-based Husco International to draw attention to the issue, estimated Wisconsin companies paid $65 million in tariffs in October. The group, a joint effort of Americans for Free Trade and Farmers for Free Trade, says the October data is more than 10 times the amount paid in October 2017.
“This data shows that tariffs have been an unmitigated failure in achieving any of the administration’s goals,” said Charles Boustany, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana and a spokesman for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. “All that’s happening is businesses and consumers are paying more, American exports subject to retaliation are rapidly declining and the deficit the administration cares so much about is ballooning.”
The Trump administration has used tariffs against Chinese goods as part of a broader effort to prompt negotiations over the economic relationship between the two countries. Those efforts have led to a 90-day pause in any new tariffs, but broader issues like intellectual property theft have not been addressed.
“As we have said since the beginning of the year, we understand what President Trump is trying to accomplish," said Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. "We believe that steps need to be taken to ensure free, but also fair and reciprocal, trade with our partners across the globe. However, it is clear that U.S.-imposed and retaliatory tariffs have had an impact on our economy."
Bauer said in the latest WMC economic survey, one-third of respondents said tariffs had a negative impact on their business and just 5 percent said the tariffs are a positive.
"It is obvious these policies are making many goods in Wisconsin more expensive to produce, which could have a slowing effect on our future economic growth,” Bauer said.
Tariffs Hurt the Heartland says Wisconsin exports have been subject to $71 million in retaliatory tariffs. In October alone, the state’s exports of goods subject to retaliation dropped by 30 percent.
Through October, total exports to China from Wisconsin have decreased 5.5 percent, a drop of almost $80 million, according to U.S. Census data. In the first five months of the year, exports were up 8.4 percent, but since implementation of tariffs started in June, exports have decreased 15.6 percent.
Wisconsin exports to all countries are up about 1.7 percent during the first 10 months of the year, compared to an increase of 8.9 percent nationwide.
Exports from metro Milwaukee are performing slightly better, up 2.4 percent through the end of September. Total U.S. exports were up 9.1 percent over that period.
The state’s imports, meanwhile, have outpaced the nation, increasing 13.7 percent through October. Nationally, the value of imports is up 9.6 percent.
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