President Donald Trump ignored Republican opposition and Thursday signed orders imposing new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and Tennessee leaders said they are unsatisfied with the move.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, released a statement and said he’s worried about how this will affect Tennessee workers.
President Bush’s similar steel tariffs in 2002 backfired and proved that such tariffs destroy many more U.S. manufacturing jobs than they save.
Last week, just the threat of steel tariffs caused Electrolux, Europe’s largest home appliance manufacturer, to put on hold a $250 million expansion in Springfield, Tennessee, even though 100 percent of the steel Electrolux uses is produced in the United States.
According to Electrolux, tariffs on imported steel raise prices on all steel sold in the United States and make it more difficult for U.S.-based manufacturing plants to compete with foreign manufacturers.
This is especially bad news for Tennesseans because one third of our state’s manufacturing jobs are auto jobs with more than 900 plants in 87 of our 95 counties. It will now be cheaper for some Tennessee auto parts suppliers to move outside the United States, buy steel and aluminum there and then ship finished parts back to our country.
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, also released the following statement after the administration’s announcement:
While I share the president’s concerns regarding Chinese steel overcapacity, I am disappointed by the administration’s approach to this problem and ultimate decision to use a rarely used national security provision to implement new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
A better way to level the playing field for American companies would be to rally our friends and allies to advance a robust, targeted effort to ensure that only those responsible for excess global capacity pay a price.
Unfortunately, I fear this announcement could have far-reaching unintended consequences that will put at risk the hard-fought economic gains U.S. businesses have seen over the past year. Hopefully, the president will come to realize this possibility and further narrow this announced policy.