Editorial: Trump Administration should step back from destructive tariffs

Enough, Mr. President.

We understand that some countries — particularly China — engage in trade practices that damage U.S. interests, particularly the protection of intellectual property. Others might provide systemic subsidies to key industries or adopt policies deemed unfair to U.S. farmers or manufacturers.

Concerns such as theft of intellectual property by China should be addressed. Strong measures must be taken to cease the practice and protect U.S. companies. Additionally, issues of hidden subsidies to key industries by trading partners should be tackled in negotiations, as should barriers to U.S. agricultural exports.

But the tariffs imposed or threatened by the Trump Administration go far beyond anything that is reasonable, and pose a real danger to the current robust economy, just as some analysts predict a slowing in 2019.

In other words, we don’t need this.

Thus far, President Trump in March imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, with initial carve-outs for Canada and Mexico. Those exemptions ended May 31, when the Administration imposed those tariffs on the two countries and the European Union.

Trump also has threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on automobile imports and has imposed a series of tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China, including aerospace, automobiles, communication technologies, materials and robotics. He also has threatened tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The list goes on.

Already, foreign trading partners have imposed retaliatory tariffs on everything from lawn mowers to orange juice, agricultural produce to seafood, motorcycles to Levi’s.

Pain already is working its way through the U.S. economy, including the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado. As Shelley Widhalm reports in this edition, companies ranging from Walker Manufacturing Co. in Fort Collins to Advance Tank & Construction Co. in Wellington have been affected by increasing costs, lack of available products or materials and overall uncertainty.

Protectionist actions have roiled financial markets and prompted consternation by the president’s Republican allies in Congress. The president’s July 25 announcement that he would provide $12 billion in emergency assistance to help farmers hurt by newly imposed retaliatory tariffs served only to heighten Republican concern.

Fortunately, Trump appears to be moderating his position, reaching agreement with the European Union to forego additional tariffs and to work toward removal of tariffs and unfair trade practices.

But the president could easily alter course once again, and trigger an all-out trade war that would damage manufacturers and agricultural producers.

We hope that doesn’t happen, for the sake of the Boulder Valley, Northern Colorado, and the global economy.