PA Chamber President Gene Barr participated last week in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for a dialogue about federal trade policies impacting businesses in the Commonwealth. In addition to Barr, the event – which was held at the PA Manufacturers Association’s offices in Harrisburg – also welcomed PMA President Dave Taylor, business leaders and chambers of commerce.
Senator Toomey addressed a number of issues, including the importance of maintaining a strong trade relationship with Canada and protecting intellectual property rights. The discussion focused particularly on concerns with the Trump administration’s newly-imposed tariffs, including those imposed on goods from countries with which the United States has traditionally enjoyed a strong trade relationship – including Canada, which is undoubtedly the nation’s closet ally and trade partner. Toomey mentioned his sponsorship, along with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN, of legislation that would require Congressional approval for the president to invoke tariffs against another country under the guise of national security.
As highlighted in a Pennlive article on the roundtable, the business leaders in attendance had plenty of stories to share regarding how their industries have been negatively impacted by the tariffs – either through the loss of sales, reduced export opportunities, material costs and a growing sense of uncertainty with respect to potential future tariffs or retaliatory tariffs from the countries being targeted.
For its part, the U.S. Chamber is resolved to educate elected officials, business leaders and the general public about the negative economic impact of these tariffs and launched a website, www.TheWrongApproach.com, which highlights the economic losses that each state could experience through the imposition of these tariffs. The website’s data shows that an emerging trade war brought on by tariffs threatens to undo the good that was achieved through last year’s Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, along with regulatory reforms that have been implemented since the start of the Trump administration. Retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports will make American-made goods more expensive, resulting in lost sales and potentially 1.6 million lost jobs. In Pennsylvania, $1.7 billion worth of exports are at risk, including coffee, motorcycles, and steel; along with 1,658,100 jobs in the Commonwealth that are supported by global trade.
Have the administration’s tariff decisions had an impact on your business, or do you foresee a future impact? If so, we’d like to hear from you. Per our international trade and exporting policy, the PA Chamber has traditionally advocated in support of public policy and initiatives that promote free and fair trade, open investment, and regulatory cooperation. Our organization also recently signed on to a U.S. Chamber-led letter in support of Toomey’s legislation, and raised concerns that unrestricted use of the laws regarding the levying of tariffs – as has been done with the recent steel and aluminum tariffs – could result in retaliatory tariffs from America’s largest trading partners and allies, which would have serious negative economic impacts on the United States.
Comments can be directed to PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper by email or 717-720-5471. Members are also invited to provide information on any impacts of tariffs to Columbia Montour Chamber president Fred Gaffney at 570-784-2522 or email. Information can be kept anonymous at member request.