MOBILE, Ala. - Sen. Doug Jones traveled to Mobile to meet with people in manufacturing and agriculture to get a sense of what impact tariffs, and proposed tariffs, have and will have on consumers and workers.
On Monday morning, in a roundtable setting, Jones spoke with Robert Burns of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Rick Clementz of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Allyson Edwards of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, David Fernandes of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc., Graham Jones of Aker Solutions, Soy, Peanut and Cotton Farmer Mark Kaiser, Mike Lee of Nucor Steel Decatur, Jimmy Lyons of the Alabama State Port Authority, Soy, Peanut and Sweet Potato Farmer Daniel Perry and Brent Sansing of Fairfield Works Tubular.
Jones said he wanted to hear testimonies from those in attendance. These are some of the people who already feel, or are worried about the impacts of the ongoing trade war with China.
"I will say that I am troubled by what I see as the growing global trade war that has been started," Jones said at the start of the meeting. "Not the least because of the high cost of goods to Alabama citizens. Alabama is now an exporting state, more than 560,000 Alabama jobs supported by trade. Our farmers, they send their crops across the globe and we're the third highest exporter of automobiles."
This year, China added a 25 percent tariff on American imports of soybeans as part of this ongoing trade dispute.
"Our largest customer is China and we're down 98 percent over the year," Kaiser said. "I don't know what's going to happen if China doesn't come to the table and start buying. But, they're going to Brazil and Brazil's going to start harvesting by the end of December. They may totally take us out of their market and we've been working on this market for 20 years. We're taking the brunt of this tariff war right now."
The state's automobile industry is also concerned about what tariffs could mean for the makers and the consumers.
"A 25 percent tariff on parts would raise production costs on our Alabama factory by about 10 percent annually which would force us to raise prices and cut production," Burns said. "A lot of Alabamians, my friends and neighbors could lose their jobs."
Fernandes said the tariffs will cost consumers if the automobile tariff goes into effect.
"The bottom line is, prices will go up," Fernandes warned. "For example, our Camry prices will go up by $1,800. Potentially, our Tundra prices will go up by $2,800."
President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet in Argentina at the end of the month. Late last week, the president said, "China wants to make a deal."