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  September 6th, 2018 | Written by

Proposed tariffs on Chinese goods = Headwinds for US economy

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  • Recreational boating industry protests proposed additional tariffs on Chinese imports.
  • “Doubling down on bad trade policy will wreak havoc on American-made industries.”
  • Fewer boat orders means that fewer Americans will be employed in occupations from warehouse work to web development.

During six days of public and interagency hearings held by the US Trade Representative in late August, the recreational boating industry joined hundreds of other industries and businesses to express deep concern about the harmful effects of the escalating trade war, including Section 301 tariffs targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports.

US businesses, including those making up the uniquely American-made recreational boating industry—which sees ninety-five percent of boats sold in the US made in the US—shared numerous examples during their testimony on how the tariffs negatively impact the US economy. From increasing the cost of parts, materials and components to creating uncertainty for American businesses, the testimony shed light on the worries of countless US industries, spanning from recreational boating to food, apparel, construction, and more.

“When you force American companies to pay taxes on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports—parts, components and materials that these companies have relied on for decades to build quality American products that are not only sold here in the US but around the globe—you’re paralyzing a significant part of the American economy,” said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government relations and legal affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “Why put American businesses and American jobs at risk when there are better ways to go about fighting unfair trade?”

During the hearings, recreational boating industry leaders cautioned the administration that tariffs are not the solution to our country’s trade issues.

“Instead of these Section 301 tariffs, which do the opposite of what they’re intended to do and put our country’s economy at risk, we need to see a more strategic approach and negotiate a trade agreement with China that takes into consideration the real needs of US businesses and American workers,” said Vasilaros.

In her testimony, Vasilaros emphasized the effects tariffs are having on the global supply chain. “While we recognize and support the need to deal with China’s unfair trade practices, the administration’s proposal to levy a 10-25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of imports will increase the harm US manufacturers are already experiencing due to misguided US trade policy,” she said. “The recreational boating industry will continue to suffer the consequences as American business are subjected to compounding tariffs that disrupt global supply chains and increase the cost of US manufacturing. Simply put, doubling down on bad trade policy will wreak havoc on American-made industries.”

Chris Welch, Supply Chain Manager of Magic Tilt Trailers, spoke on the disproportionate affects the tariffs are having on the marine manufacturing industry. “Although Secretary Ross was able to demonstrate on television that 25-percent steel tariffs will have little impact on the overall cost of a can of soup, the reality of our situation couldn’t be more opposite,” he said. “I don’t think the secretary would have garnered the same visual result had he presented a two-ton steel boat trailer as his example. Price increases along our entire supply chain on metal products have been swift and significant since the domestic steel and aluminum premium markets moved north, absorbing the ramifications of the Section 232 investigation and subsequent tariff decisions.”

John Hoge, President of Sea Eagle, highlighted how small businesses like his are negatively impacted by the trade war, possibly resulting in less job opportunities in the future. “Fewer orders means that fewer Americans will be employed in occupations from warehouse work to web development,” he testified. “Marketing budgets will have to be cut sharply and that will mean cancelled orders for advertising, catalog printing, video production and digital marketing. Fewer orders means less business for carriers such as FedEx and UPS. Jobs that are currently secure will be lost overnight.”