Free Trade is Crucial to Pennsylvania’s Economic Prosperity

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Throughout 2018, Pennsylvania has seen positive economic gains as a result of federal reforms to the nation’s tax structure and regulatory environment. These pro-business changes have helped to strengthen not only the Commonwealth’s competitiveness, but the nation’s as a whole; which has had the ripple effect of increasing employer confidence and boosting private sector growth. However, all of these benefits are at risk of going away due to the threat of a global trade war spurred on by the imposition of tariffs on a variety of goods from countries with which the United States has traditionally enjoyed a strong trade relationship. 

And what does this mean for Pennsylvania? According to data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade war would put $2.2 billion worth of exports at risk – including coffee, motorcycles and steel – and threatens more than 1.6 million jobs in the Commonwealth that are supported by global trade.

Clearly, Pennsylvania has a lot at stake. Nowhere is this more evident than in our trade relationship with Canada – which is critical in advancing the state’s overall economy; generating billions of dollars in economic output and providing thousands of family sustaining jobs. In fact, in 2017, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states providing imports to Ontario alone. I recently joined with my counterpart at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce – Rocco Rossi – to highlight this important trade relationship and call for the renewal of the North American Free Trade Agreement in order to strengthen cross-border trade.

Businesses across the state are already feeling the impacts of the Trump administration’s tariffs. This point was driven home at a recent roundtable meeting where Sen. Pat Toomey joined myself and other business leaders from across the Commonwealth. From timber to steel manufacturing to construction, representatives from a variety of industries spoke of how the tariffs have resulted in increased costs, the loss of sales, fewer export opportunities, and a growing sense of uncertainty with respect to potential future or retaliatory tariffs that is leading them to scale back on or even shelve important projects. Across the state and the country, companies are weighing in on the threat these tariffs are having on their bottom line and their ability to operate and hire new workers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a website that runs a state-by-state analysis of the negative economic impact of the tariffs and encourages business leaders to submit their comments. And Sen. Toomey has co-sponsored legislation that would require Congressional approval of any tariffs that are levied under the guise of national security – a bill that the PA Chamber has signed a letter of support for.

In today’s global marketplace, the strength and long-term prosperity of the United States economy is fortified by American businesses continuing to export goods and services around the world. That’s why we are voicing our concerns about the negative impacts these tariffs, along with any future retaliatory tariffs, may have on the Commonwealth’s economy and continuing to advocate for public policies and initiatives that promote free and fair trade, open investment and regulatory cooperation