WASHINGTON — Two protectionist policies being considered by the White House would result in significant job losses, according to research released by the National Retail Federation.
Withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and tariffs against China would both cost domestic jobs, NRF found.
The Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports, coupled with retaliation promised by China, would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $3 billion and destroy 134,000 American jobs annually, according to a study released by the NRF and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The report found that four jobs would be lost for every one gained.
“The livelihoods of American workers hang in the balance,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said. He said that he hoped this month’s trade talks with China were the start of serious negotiations leading to a more open Chinese market and protection of U.S. jobs and economic growth. “We must resolve this trade dispute without resorting to job-killing tariffs and retaliation,” he said
“Tariffs could wash away the benefits recent tax reform will have on the economy, bringing uncertainty to American businesses and devastation to some workers in key states — they might lose their jobs over a trade tax,” CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said. “Rising costs on farmers, manufacturers and service providers isn’t the answer; it shows protectionism will weaken America. We believe it is best for the administration to seize on China’s willingness to negotiate to achieve positive outcomes for U.S. workers, rather than via tariffs that ultimately harm us.”
The study also details the employment impact of tariffs at the state level. The 10 states that would suffer the highest job losses are: California, Texas, Florida, Washington, New York, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio.
Pulling out of NAFTA would cost retailers and consumers up to $16 billion a year and lead to the loss of 128,000 retail-related jobs over the next three years, according to an A.T. Kearney study prepared for the NRF, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and Food Marketing Institute.
“There’s a lot at stake for American retailers, workers and consumers as the administration resumes NAFTA negotiations,” said Shay. “It’s clear NAFTA must be modernized, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that this agreement helps ensure that American families have access to products they need at prices they can afford.” Withdrawing from NAFTA would jeopardize “countless” jobs and force consumers to pay more for everyday products.”
RILA president Sandra Kennedy said, “This report confirms that leaving NAFTA puts American jobs, family budgets and the entire North American economy at risk. We encourage the administration to modernize and preserve NAFTA to support the millions of American jobs along the supply chain that rely upon free and fair trade.”
FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin said, “This report helps illustrate how — thanks in part to our expanded trade with Mexico and Canada — U.S. grocery shoppers can wander the produce section in January and take home groceries to allow them to eat like it’s a June day. The quality, consistency and affordability that stems from the interconnectedness of our three economies helps guarantee that Americans have the most abundant, safest, healthiest and most cost-effective food choices in the world.”