Sampson Independent

Tariffs doing more harm than good

President Trump may laud tariffs as one of many ways to make America Great Again, but a closer look at those the tariff’s are already impacting should bring a collective intake of breath.

While on its surface, hitting countries like China with higher tariffs seems like a positive move, the retaliation is mighty and the blow tough to take. It starts with our farmers, where American ham and other pork products are now facing massive tariffs — between 62 and 70 percent — as China fights back. It has led, according to NPR, to almost a standstill in pork exports to China.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Farmers dealing in grains are also facing massive hits, and despite Trump’s borrow from Peter to pay Paul thinking, lowering the boom on foreign countries will come with a higher price than our economy will eventually be able to afford.

While it’s true the president has tried to soften the blow to the agriculture industry by calling for a $12 billion farm bailout, we agree with trade and agriculture experts who believe it’s a misguided attempt to cushion the damage of the administration’s increasing use of tariffs against trading partners and is unlikely to address the long-term risks farmers face of losing their lucrative export markets.

What’s more, we wonder, will there be other bailouts for other industries that will eventually be harmed mightily by the tariffs?

Right now things seem stable, but there is a danger the tariffs will have a trickle down effect that reaches more and more consumers.

A tariff is essentially a tax on an imported good. Companies affected by tariffs can respond by absorbing the extra expense, increasing prices, moving production to other countries or some combination of the three.

President Trump has said China’s trade policies give its companies an unfair advantage in the global marketplace.

It’s not that we totally disagree with Trump’s thinking, but there has to be some middle ground and some thought put into leveling tariffs before this administration continues to go willy-nilly into them, understanding what may be looming just over the horizon.

In our business, for example, tariffs are hitting extremely hard, forcing, in some cases, the shuttering of smaller, community newspapers unable to meet the increased costs thanks to imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint.

Those tariffs are a response to a complaint to the U.S. Department of Commerce from a hedge fund-owned paper producer in Washington state, which argues that its Canadian competitors are taking advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices. The tariffs, imposed in January and increased in March, are not permanent yet. But newspaper publishers are bracing for another blow .

Critics of the paper tariffs say the businesses that will ultimately be harmed are not Canadian paper producers, but U.S. newspapers that will have to cut staff and reduce publication days to afford higher prices of newsprint.

We are already seeing that. This month, the award-winning community newspaper The Salisbury Post announced a reduction in its print schedule, dropping Monday and Saturday print publication.

More will likely follow if something isn’t done about these tariffs.

We urge President Trump and our leaders in Washington to remove the blinders and see what is truly happening across our great country because of these tariffs. In the end, they are doing far more harm than good.