While the White House spins out tariffs and threatening rhetoric against our allies and other trading partners, some Wisconsinites are going to be hard hit by the retaliatory tariffs and actions from our aggrieved partners.
But meanwhile back at the state that is open for business, we have actual businesses concerned and complaining about the effects that the tariffs will have on their…well their business.
“I do recognize this is probably a negotiating tactic … the administration is using, but in the meantime real families are being crushed by these tariffs right now,” said Doug Reigle of Regal Ware, a company with 200 employees in West Bend that makes cookware and small kitchen appliances.
“We ship our products all over the world — 65 percent of our revenue comes from outside the United States … and the tariffs are hitting us especially hard,” said Reigle, who said his firm has already spent about $150,000 this year to cover the tariffs.
All of Regal Ware’s aluminum comes from Canada.
“We can’t even buy it in the United States,” Reigle said. “Our competitors, which come from all over the world, aren’t subject to these tariffs. … So I’m now at a 25 percent disadvantage immediately on all those products.”
U.S. agriculture is bearing the brunt of the countermeasures already imposed by Mexico, equivalent to $2.62 billion of the targeted products.
That includes $387 million in tariffs on U.S. cheese, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks global commerce.
About 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is turned into cheese, and 90 percent of that cheese is sold outside of the state’s borders.
“Dairy farmers and processors simply cannot afford a trade war that will choke off access to major partners,” said Brody Stapel, a dairy farmer from Cedar Grove and board president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.
Mexico buys nearly a quarter of all dairy products exported by the U.S.
And earlier this week, we have the report that area builders can’t build in demand starter houses because costs are rising…and only more expensive houses ($300,000 and up) are being built.
Last year, the federal Commerce Department concluded that Canada is subsidizing its forestry industry and exporting lumber to the U.S. at prices that are unfairly low. As a result, the U.S. put tariffs of more than 20 percent on Canadian lumber.
About a third of lumber used in the U.S. is imported, and about 95 percent of that is Canadian softwood lumber, said Dietz (Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders).
“So the result is that lumber prices have skyrocketed,” Dietz said. “In fact, since the start of 2017, lumber prices are up 63 percent. That’s adding about $8,000 per single-family home and almost $3,000 per multifamily unit.”
So where is our governor? Don’t tell me hie isn’t involved with trade. He’s taken his share of overseas trips to promote trade for Wisconsin…both for exports of Wisconsin products and finding sources for investments in Wisconsin. And then of course there’s the Foxconn thing.
But really…he’s running for re-election. If US Representative James Sensenbrenner (from the first linked article above) is getting an earful on tariffs and trade issues, I would imagine the governor is too. But nary a peep. Wouldn’t bringing these issues up be good for his campaign? Won’t it play well with small manufacturers all over the state who may be affected by this? Won’t it play well with family dairy farms? Even some of his big money donors have to be concerned on how a trade war will affect them. But not a peep. Or are we so mired in tribal politics now, that it isn’t the economy, stupid?