While Trump Weighs Tariffs, Solar and Washer Imports Soar

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

We got a new year going! Happy New Year. The president is back and back at it. Seems really refreshed. We’ve already outlined a bunch of stuff we hope to see the White House tackle in 2018, including meaningful action on the deluge of steel and aluminum imports. Hey, the Republicans got their tax bill across the finish line, and the administration said that’s what the hold-up was! Time for action on steel. Workers are waiting.

In the meantime, though, there are other trade kettles boiling, like possible (separate) tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels.

Here’s what's up: Manufacturers in each industry – Whirlpool for washers, and Suniva and SolarWorld for solar panel producers – brought cases to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), and had to show evidence they had been injured by unfairly traded imports.  

The ITC, according to the Wall Street Journal, agreed with the plaintiffs in both cases, and sent its recommendations to the White House – where it’s up to the president to decide what to do next. Apply tariffs a little? A lot? Not at all? He’s got a lot of leeway.

Whether he does or not, imports of washers and solar panels have skyrocketed. Notes the Journal:

Trade data offer a limited window into companies’ export decisions, which can be influenced by seasonality, demand and trade. But Panjiva trade analyst Christopher Rogers said manufacturers expecting new trade barriers often boost shipments. Their attitude, he said, is: “Let’s get while the getting is good.”

The free-trade-at-all-cost nerds who oppose raising tariffs say those costs will just get passed onto consumers, but – specifically in the case of solar imports – it's hard to argue with the fact the Chinese government subsidizes the heck out of this industry (just like it does to sectors like steel) and it plans to do the same in many other sectors.

Not exactly open market competition! We’ll be watching closely to see what President Trump does regarding these tariff decisions.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Stay out of the TPP

From the AFL-CIO

Working people want to move forward on trade, not backward. President Donald Trump’s reported interest in reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the wrong idea. He should focus on upgrading the protections for worker freedoms in the ongoing negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Three years ago, a united movement of working people rose in opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, upsetting the conventional wisdom and changing the course of American trade policy.

Our opposition had nothing to do with political parties. It was a grassroots groundswell, and it came after years in which trade experts from the AFL-CIO and our member unions offered feedback, detailed testimony and policy language to the trade negotiators, who simply allowed corporations to have too much control over the proposed deal.

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