Reston, VA—Association for Print Technologies (APTech℠) President Thayer Long today announced APTech’s opposition to the Trump Administration’s tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%), stating that, “protectionist tariffs have a well-documented history of negatively impacting economies.” In contrast, Long emphasized the Association’s history of advocating, encouraging and facilitating free, fair trade for its members, noting that APTech, “is very dismayed by these tariffs, both because of their likely effect on the cost of printing plates and possible other ramifications specific to the printing, publishing and converting industry, and their drag on the overall economy that is presently humming along.” On the latter point, Long cited last week’s remarkably encouraging government report of 313,000 jobs added to the economy in February, with unemployment holding at a 17-year low of 4.1% in the face of a growing workforce. “Though not solely responsible for this good news, credit in part goes to the Trump Administration’s stable dollar, lower marginal tax rates via the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act and a much-defanged regulatory state,” Long added. “So, let’s not jeopardize this vibrant and growing economy by applying counterproductive trade policies like these protectionist across-the-board tariffs that APTech strongly opposes,” he concluded.
“We always have a healthy respect for the enforcement of trade laws designed to preserve free, fair trade and to appropriately sanction predatory behavior that disrupts competitive markets,” stated APTech Vice President, Government Affairs, Mark Nuzzaco. “We would not want our members to lose business and jobs to unfair competition bolstered by government subsidies, dumping products below the cost of production, or the violation of intellectual property rights,” he stressed. “Measured, targeted responses to these kinds of practices are warranted, but not broad-brush indiscriminate tariffs,” advises Nuzzaco.
To the President’s credit, he has modified the steel and aluminum tariffs by excluding Canada (with which the U.S. has an overall, and a steel export surplus) and Mexico for the time being. APTech applauds this and urges even more specific tailoring of a remedy if it is needed for national security purposes. But, if these tariffs are a negotiating ploy to gain concessions in the redrafting of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), as some have supposed, it seems risky and even invites damaging retaliation that could cost more U.S. jobs than it is intended to save and/or bring back. We now speak out because there is still time to lessen or even avert the damage to be wrought by these protectionist policies.
These latest steel and aluminum tariffs, which become effective March 23, come on the heels of the imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian uncoated groundwood newsprint levied by the U.S. Commerce Department, which also raise costs on a printing industry that can ill afford it. The petitions for these duties have been refuted by the majority of U.S. newsprint manufacturers, the American Forest and Paper Association, and U.S. newsprint customers who point out that the decline in demand for newsprint comes from a shift toward digital platforms rather than from unfair trade practices by Canadian producers. We agree and urge the International Trade Commission to reject these harmful duties.
Against this backdrop, this week marks the successful conclusion of an 11-nation trade pact formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which, upon entering office, the Trump Administration pulled the U.S. out of before its ratification by the U.S. Congress. Absent the U.S., the agreement has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Its members include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Together these countries account for more than 13%, $10 trillion, in world trade; had the U.S. remained a partner it would be 40%. TPP – which APTech strongly supported – was a sound agreement that would have provided economic and security benefits to the U.S. in the Asian-Pacific region. Now, the U.S. could well be the big loser here unless it reengages, which would require two difficult, and sadly rather unlikely steps: reopening a complex agreement, and a will to do so by an Administration averse to multilateral trade pacts.
Facing these challenging anti-trade winds APTech remains steadfast in advocating for free, fair trade, knowing the benefits to its members, their customers and the overall U.S. economy. To that end, we want to be cautiously optimistic that President Trump may still steer his trade policies away from their protectionist-looking starting points, to a direction more likely to yield better deals for all domestic U.S. industries and their workers – whom he professes to champion – while remaining friendly with global trading partners.
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