Tariffs: A win for American jobs or the start of a trade war?

March 9, 2018

Experts on Trump's steel tariffsPresident Trump has signed an order imposing new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum that will affect trade partners, such as China, but excludes Canada, the leading source of Ameican steel, and Mexico. USC experts explain who wins and who loses when tariffs are imposed.

Contact: Emily Gersema, (213) 361-6730 or gersema@usc.edu

Photo credit: Jatinsanghvi via Wikimedia Commons

Can the president impose tariffs?

“The president has the authority to impose these tariffs under an old, rarely-used trade law, enacted in 1962, on imports that the president deems to be a threat to national security – in this case, imports of steel and aluminum.”

Brian Peck is an adjunct professor and director of the Transnational Law and Business Center at the USC Gould School of Law. He is an expert in international trade, trade agreements and globalization.

Contact: bpeck@law.usc.edu and (213) 740-2563

Do tariffs affect approval ratings?

“In a recently published article, which examines presidents’ unilateral trade adjustments between 1986 and 2006, my coauthors and I find that presidents impose tariffs not with an eye toward helping their co-partisans in Congress – but rather to support their own electoral coalition. We uncover no evidence that the president’s co-partisans in either the House or Senate benefit electorally from the president’s discretionary authority over trade barriers.

“Thus, the current disagreement between President Trump and Republicans in Congress – led by House Speaker Paul Ryan – on tariffs is not surprising. It is in keeping with longstanding differences in electoral incentives that the president and his co-partisans in Congress face on tariff policy.”

Jeffery A. Jenkins is the director of the Bedrosian Center and director of the Political Institutions and Political Economy Collaborative at the USC Price School of Public Policy. A Provost Professor, he is an expert in American political history, including the origins and development of congressional and partisan institutions.

Contact: jenkinja@price.usc.edu or (213) 821-4717

Winners and losers in in trade wars

“The lesson of the 1930s was that nobody wins trade wars. Everybody is hurt and the damage can spill over to political relationships. If President Trump persists with tariffs on aluminum and steel, there will be consequences. The consequences might be somewhat dampened if Canada (the largest source of U.S. exports of both steel and aluminum) is exempted.

Jonathan Aronson is a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He is an expert on international trade, trade barriers including tariffs and non-tariffs, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Contact: aronson@usc.edu, (213) 743-1943 or (310) 472-3356

Tariffs and national security

“Overall, China’s aggressive steps to erode America’s steelmaking industry have long portended troubling repercussions for national security. It’s simply not a tolerable or safe position for the U.S. Trump was correct to take action on steel and aluminum imports, and anyone concerned about the global environment, American jobs, or national security should support his decision.”

Greg Autry made those statements for a recent Washington Examiner article. He is an assistant professor at USC Marshall School of Business, and an expert in trade policy, China policy, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Contact: gautry@marshall.usc.edu or (213) 821-0917

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