York Wire & Cable CEO: President Trump’s tariffs are hurting our business
I believe that trade is a key component of American success and prosperity. I urge Congressman Perry to encourage President Trump and his administration to end the trade war and support policies that enable York County to compete in the global market.
I run a small business that specializes in electrical wire and cable as well as specialty alloys for high-temperature uses such as those used in industrial ovens, stoves, furnaces, and kilns. My York County business sells our American-made goods to customers in the U.S. and around the world.
When more countries trade with the U.S., more customers are able to buy products made in York. I experienced the benefit of international trade first hand, every time I had the privilege to hire a new employee to meet growing demand.
Unfortunately, I have also experienced the cost of recent decisions to go to battle against allies like Japan and Europe. I am losing business in the US because of recent tariffs. It is now more expensive to purchase raw materials my company needs, like nickel alloys. That forces us to raise prices on the products we sell, which hurts business. I am also losing business in other parts of the world because many countries responded to new U.S. tariffs by adding some of their own.
All of this means Americans are paying more for the things we need, and selling less of the things we make and grow. In fact, since the trade war started, the U.S. trade deficit with other countries increased.
Every day of the trade war digs the U.S. deeper into a hole. I am afraid for my business because there is no end in sight. Even if everything went back to normal tomorrow, there is no guarantee that all of my customers would return. Anyone who has ever worked in sales knows it’s easier to keep an existing client than recruit a new one.
My company is impacted by the situation, but we are a small part of the overall picture. A huge portion of Pennsylvania’s economy depends on exporting goods. Pennsylvania companies manufacture $85 billion worth of products every single year, employing 566,000 men and women. For every dollar of goods we sold last year, 39 cents came from customers in other countries. Canada and Mexico were our first and second biggest trade partners.
That was before the trade war. Now, in response to the president’s tariffs, countries have imposed tariffs of their own. $2.2 billion in Pennsylvania -made goods are threatened by these retaliatory tariffs, impacting manufacturers and farmers alike.
Tariffs hurt American families by raising the prices on things we buy from American companies in American stores. Tariffs hurt American businesses by raising the price of materials we use to make things and making our products more expensive versus international competitors.
We are in a hole and we need to stop digging. The president should end the trade war and negotiate with allies. The recent announcement of an agreement with Canada and Mexico is a positive step. But we need to end tariffs that increase the price of raw materials like metals.
For a long-term solution we need to return to the trade policies that made our country strong. Our founding fathers knew America’s word should be her bond. They understood that trade impacts every American and so every American should be represented at the table. They believed that trade policy must be set by representatives – who are closest to the people – and senators. It should be deliberate and methodical. It should be accountable to the public, but it should not change direction every time the political winds shift.
Unfortunately, in recent years Congress has moved away from the Founders’ vision and handed over a great deal of its constitutional power to the executive branch. The result is that today, the president has the power that our founders never dreamed of. Congress needs to reassert its primary role in American trade policy.
Thankfully Sen. Pat Toomey has been a loud advocate for trade and for a strong congressional role in the process. Congressman Scott Perry, who has consistently prioritized economic growth and prosperity, should join the charge. He should work on behalf of central Pennsylvania manufacturers and farmers to increase trade. Sometimes that will mean agreeing with President Trump, other times it will mean disagreeing with the president.
Can we improve trade policy? Always. Should we crack down on countries, like China, when they cheat? Definitely.
American ingenuity, empowered by strong work ethic and protected by constitutional liberties, made our country the greatest in the history of the world. Our parents and grandparents won World War II and rebuilt the world in America’s economic image. We won the Cold War by running economic circles around the Soviets. The result has been decades of relative peace and prosperity. We should support trade policy that lets York County businesses and farmers compete and win in every corner of the globe.
Bob Wilson is CEO of York Wire & Cable, Inc. and former chairman of the York County Republican Committee.