Colorado’s trade war casualties

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As our trade war deepens with countries around the world, Colorado stands to lose both jobs and income.

The state is not as reliant on exports as California ($5.6 billion in exports) or Texas ($3.9 billion), but there are 733,900 jobs and $276.8 million in exports at stake under the retaliatory tariffs put in place by the European Union, Mexico, China and Canada after the United States announced it would be adding to the cost to imports from overseas and across our borders.

It won’t affect our total exports because some industries aren’t covered in the targeted tariffs. The U.S. Census Bureau says the state exported $8 billion in commodities and finished goods last year, but it will harm many industries — and much of that damage hits close to home.

About $188 million worth of exports sent to Mexico — products like pork and Colorado cheese — are subject to additional tariffs.

Canadian officials placed tariffs on $14 million worth of bread and baked goods from the state, on $9 million in aluminum cans and caskets and $5.5 million in soap products.

Products we export to China, worth about $30.3 million, also face additional tariffs, put in place after the United States kicked off the trade war by increasing tariffs on Chinese products imported to the U.S. Most of the Chinese tariffs are on aluminum waste and scrap.

Earlier this year, China banned imports of waste plastic and mixed paper products from the U.S., which were going to China for recycling. If it also cuts back on aluminum, the nation’s recycling efforts will face a huge setback.

But the risk doesn’t end there.

In the European Union, about $8.2 million of Colorado exports are at risk, led by $4.8 million in steel-related exports. Other EU tariffs targeting relevant industries are $1.1 million in motorcycles and about $625,000 in whiskey production.

Of course, adding to the price of goods exported from Colorado to China, Mexico, Canada and the EU doesn’t mean people won’t still buy them. But it’s enough to worry the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy organization.

“Tariffs imposed by the United States are nothing more than a tax increase on American consumers and businesses — including manufacturers, farmers and technology companies — who will all pay more for commonly used products and materials,” said the  chamber in an official statement about the tariffs. “Retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports will make American goods more expensive, resulting in lost sales and lost jobs here at home. This is the wrong approach, and it threatens to derail our nation’s recent economic resurgence.”

While the tax breaks passed earlier this year by Congress — at President Donald Trump’s behest — were good for business by providing an infusion of cash to create jobs and increase wages, the tariffs erase those tax reforms almost completely for many industries.

It’s time to end the trade war — and restore confidence to businesses that export their products to other countries. To do less is to harm the American economy and cost American jobs.