Doug Jones says Donald Trump’s tariffs threaten Alabama’s auto industry

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Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday, criticizing President Donald Trump‘s proposed 25 percent tariffs on imported autos and auto parts into the United States.

The letter argues that rather than helping the United States economy or improving national security, the tariffs will cost jobs and threaten the growth of the automotive manufacturing sector in the Southeast.

“Auto manufacturers and suppliers employ nearly 200,000 of our constituents and that number is growing. These are good jobs employing American workers. Over the past several years the automotive industry, including foreign manufacturers, has invested billions in our states and created thousands of jobs,” wrote Jones, along with Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.

They continued, “We share with you and President Trump the goal of bolstering our nation’s security and making sure that our trade policy is balanced and works for American workers and businesses. We are worried though that tariffs on the automotive industry will serve neither of these purposes, and instead put hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk including many in our home states.”

Jones and Alexander urges Ross’ agency to reconsider the tariff.

Trump’s auto tariff

President Trump is working with his administration in hopes of revitalizing America’s industrial base and re-balancing America’s trade relationships. To that end, the Trump administration is mulling a plan to impose the tariffs by undergoing an investigation through Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

Section 232 allows Trump to impose trade restrictions that threaten U.S. national security, including levying tariffs on foreign goods that excessively displace domestic goods or cause loss of skills/investment or substantial unemployment.

“Big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough,” Trump tweeted last month before announcing the tariff

Below is the complete text of the Jones/Alexander letter:

The Honorable Wilbur Ross
Secretary
United States Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Ross:

We are writing in response to the Commerce Department’s investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 into whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten our national security.

We share with you and President Trump the goal of bolstering our nation’s security and making sure that our trade policy is balanced and works for American workers and businesses. We are worried though that tariffs on the automotive industry will serve neither of these purposes, and instead put hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk including many in our home states.

Auto manufacturers and suppliers employ nearly 200,000 of our constituents and that number is growing. These are good jobs employing American workers. Over the past several years the automotive industry, including foreign manufacturers, has invested billions in our states and created thousands of jobs.

However, as a result of the Department’s investigation, automotive companies are currently facing the threat of direct and retaliatory tariffs, which could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of additional costs. To absorb these costs, automotive companies in our state could be forced to either raise prices or cut costs. Either scenario directly translates into lost jobs for our constituents.

The Administration’s 232 investigation centers on the national security impact of the automotive industry in the United States. We can assure you that reducing the size of our state’s automotive manufacturing base will not bolster our nation’s security.

In closing, we hope you will take into consideration the vital role the automotive industry plays in our states and the well-being of the tens of thousands of American workers who rely on this sector to make ends meet.

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