Déjà Vu Tariff Madness
When President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on imported washing machines last week it was a “Not Again” moment for officials in this north Tennessee city that has lost jobs to an international trade dispute before.
The move threatens to stunt the launch of a new LG Electronics (066570.KS) washing machine factory under construction in Clarksville, just four years after the U.S.-China trade fight over solar panels scuttled a nearby $1.2 billion Hemlock Semiconductor polysilicon plant.
“It’s like déjà vu for Clarksville, to say ‘how can this be happening twice to us,'” the city’s mayor, Kim McMillan, told Reuters.
At stake is an appliance manufacturing complex that could eventually employ thousands of workers and which the state of Tennessee and the local community supported with some $23 million in grants. The 310-acre (1.25 square kilometer) site an hour north of Nashville has room for three additional buildings identical to the plant’s $250 million, 600-job first phase.
Trump’s decision to impose 20 percent to 50 percent tariffs on washer imports and parts has local officials asking what his “America First” stands for: supporting all U.S. manufacturing jobs or just favoring traditional American brands over foreign rivals. Labor statistics show that foreign companies have been the source of the majority of new manufacturing jobs since the 2009 recession.
America First Irony: American Jobs or American Brands
Trump's tariffs favor Whirlpool and GE Appliances, now owned by China’s Haier Electronics Group, over a competitor moving production and jobs to Tennessee.
“I think it goes against what (Trump) has talked about doing and that’s bringing jobs back to America,” said Durrett, the county mayor and a Republican.
America First Madness
A week ago I noted Solar Companies Behind Tariff Increases are Foreign-Owned. Today we learn the same about washing machines.
Professor Steve Hanke says "Trump is Clueless About Trade" and the math provides all the evidence one needs.
For further discussion, please see Disputing Trump’s NAFTA “Catastrophe” with Pictures: What’s the True Source of Trade Imbalances?
Reader Comments Addendum
Reader comments hit the nail on the head.
- The Realist: "How ironic. Trump offers simple solutions to complex problems. The net result is worse than if he did nothing at all."
- Curious Cat: "For every complex question there is a simple solution.... that's wrong"
- Via Email: "Trump's trade policy is for Neanderthals. It feels good to club the other guy over the side of the head except when he gets up and puts a spear in your side. It’s why Neanderthals are extinct."
- Sechel: "Protectionism can only lead to higher prices and poor quality. When we limit competition what other result can there be?"
Mike "Mish" Shedlock