When it comes to international trade, China has long been up to no good. It steals our intellectual property, puts up barriers to make it harder for American companies to sell their products in China, and subsidizes its own products in an attempt to tilt the game board in its favor. Rather than stand up to China, U.S. leaders of both parties have ignored these issues for decades.
That’s why I’m proud that President Trump is living up to his promise to stand up to China and level the playing field for American workers and businesses. It’s long past time we had a president who truly puts America first.
However, I worry that the escalating exchange of tariffs will only hurt the American businesses and workers Mr. Trump is trying to protect.
That’s because tariffs are actually a tax paid by American businesses and consumers — not by China. This increases costs for American businesses and forces them to raise prices in order to stay in the black, which in turn gets passed down to you and me when we’re buying everyday things like groceries or school supplies for our kids. At the same time, our farmers are getting hit with retaliatory tariffs that make it harder to sell their products overseas, dealing a massive blow to their income.
In my home state of North Carolina, trade is vital to our economy. Data shows that trade supports over 1.2 million jobs in the Tarheel State, yet over 63,000 jobs could disappear as a result of tariffs. That’s because a whopping $2.2 billion dollars’ worth of North Carolina exports have been targeted in retaliatory tariffs. As a result, exports have already tumbled by 25 percent — a trend that will only worsen as this trade war drags on.
In North Carolina and across the country, soybean farmers are facing particularly intense pressure. Soybean crops are the largest crop by acreage in North Carolina and are a major cornerstone of our agricultural economy. China levied massive retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans leading Chinese companies to essentially stop purchasing them. As a result, the price-per-bushel of soybeans has tumbled to its lowest point in a decade. And with limited international buyers, farm bins are filled to the brim with some crops even being left to rot in the fields. Not only has this threatened these very farmers’ livelihoods, but it has also impacted countless jobs in the supply chain.
Nevertheless, thankfully, Mr. Trump’s leadership has resulted in a booming economy. The national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since former President Richard M. Nixon. This has helped some people weather the storm caused by tariffs — but that won’t last long. Eventually, all of Mr. Trump’s great work to fix our economy and get things moving in the right direction could be erased by the negative impact of tariffs. And that could very well spell trouble for Mr. Trump’s reelection chances.
In order to hang on to the Oval Office in 2020, Mr. Trump clearly recognizes the importance of winning key states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and my home state of North Carolina. In fact, the president will be holding a rally in North Carolina this week. But job losses and higher prices tied to tariffs could make the difference in states like North Carolina between four more years and early retirement on Election Day.
I’m proud to finally have a president who is willing to stand up to China and make international trade fair again, and I’m excited to cast my ballot for him once again next year. However, I strongly encourage the president to end tariffs quickly and adopt a better approach to deal with China, so that we can further reap the benefits of his successful economic agenda.
• Brent Jackson is a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state’s 10th Senate district.
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