The following Wisconsin State Journal editorial ran on Sunday, June 10:
Dairy products, boats, cranberries and even Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
President Donald Trump’s trade wars with some of America’s closest allies will raise the cost to sell and buy countless consumer goods at home and abroad.
Wisconsin’s congressional delegation and the rest of Congress should demand the president stop slapping tariffs on American imports, which will result in retaliatory fees on vital state exports.
It’s bad for business, consumers and the economy — and it must end.
President Trump doesn’t seem to care much about the fate of Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers and laborers as he improvises his strategy on American trade policy with little concern for the consequences. Real people’s lives and occupations are at stake.
Rural Wisconsin favored Trump in the last presidential election. Yet rural areas will be hardest hit if trade disputes escalate further because those areas rely more on agriculture exports.
Not long ago, free trade was a cornerstone of conservative politics. Now, with Trump in the White House, the Republican president is siding with protectionists who seek to wall off American industry and workers from competition.
But that won’t work. Wisconsin and America need access to growing markets and an expanding middle class around the globe to compete and prosper.
Free trade isn’t a zero-sum game, as Trump, many progressives and tea party activists imagine. It’s a fluid exchange of products and services in which countries produce and sell what they do the best, and buy what they need the most.
Free trade lowers prices for people around the globe and raises incomes.
Trade deals sometimes hurt domestic industries that face increased competition from overseas producers. But overall, all nations involved in trade deals, as well as their citizens, benefit from greater exchange — even if the flow of products and services isn’t equal in both directions, as some critics demand.
Trump’s big-government tariffs and intervention in the economy won’t help Wisconsin succeed in the 21st century. Wisconsin Republicans need to stand up to their president on this vital issue for our state’s economy and future.
Virtually any product here or abroad could be affected by Trump’s trade wars if they continue.
Trump recently slapped risky tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from our closest allies, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Our trading partners now are placing or threatening retaliatory fees on such stalwart Wisconsin products as ginseng, paper, cheese and motorcycles.
Not even Wisconsin beer in immune from these international disputes. Trump’s tariff on aluminum imports will add cost to the beer that’s sold here in aluminum cans.
Instead of picking fights with our allies, America should be pressing for calm and respectful trade negotiations that update deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada to better reflect changing technology.
Trump’s attempt to bully his way to better trade deals isn’t working, and Wisconsin consumers and businesses will pay for his naiveté.