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Brady Opening Statement at Hearing on the Effects of Tariff Increases on the U.S. Economy and Jobs

April 12, 2018

Washington, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a full Committee hearing on the effects on the U.S. economy and jobs of tariff increases related to Section 232 and Section 301 investigations.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“When it comes to trade, how do you avoid punishing Americans for China’s misbehavior? Does even the prospect of potential higher tariffs damage our U.S. economy and harm our local farmers and businesses – especially now that due to President Trump, we have one of the most pro-growth tax codes in the world?  

“Today we’ll hear from a broad range of local American job creators about the real world impact of increased tariffs – and how to ensure that trade enforcement doesn’t inflict collateral damage on hardworking American manufacturers, farmers, and families.

“We’ll focus specifically on U.S. tariff increases related to the Section 232 action on steel and aluminum, which took effect on March 23. We also want to hear about the proposed tariff increases related to the Section 301 investigation into China’s aggressive theft of America’s intellectual property and technologies.

“We’ll also discuss the ongoing processes that determine how and when tariffs are imposed, including the country-by-country and product-by-product exclusions for steel and aluminum – as well as your thoughts about the effects of retaliation against our Made-in-America products and services being sold abroad.

“We start from common ground. It’s clear that China’s dishonest and unfair trade practices are hurting the American economy and costing us thousands of jobs here at home. The President is right to take a hard line against China’s predatory policies and significant trade violations – including the theft of American intellectual property and policies compelling U.S. businesses to hand over their most valuable technology to Chinese competitors. These severe trade abuses have gone on for too long and cannot be allowed to continue. 

“The challenge for every President, however, is how to change China’s behavior – and punish it if necessary – without harming our families, businesses, and farmers.  We know that tariffs are, after all, taxes, and will ultimately be passed onto consumers. Like taxes, they also curtail economic growth, discourage new investment, delay new hiring, and put American workers at a huge disadvantage to foreign competitors.

“The mere threat of potential tariffs can stunt the economic momentum of the new Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. In Texas manufacturing in February was booming, but factories cut production growth by more than half in March due to concerns over higher costs from the potential steel and aluminum tariffs. Worldwide economic growth is on the verge of finally bursting out of a decade of stagnation, but now is pulling back on fears of a significant trade dispute.

“Back home, one of our manufacturing plants in the oilfield services industry was planning to grow by up to 500 more jobs as energy recovers but now could face job layoffs if their fairly-traded steel is not excluded and they lose sales to foreign competitors. I appreciate the President has put in place a process to exclude products like this and giving all sides in this trade dispute ample time to resolve it.  

“I cannot think of a better way to address these challenges than to get input directly from U.S. stakeholders, and that’s exactly what we’re doing today.  

“Our panel today brings a broad range of perspectives, and I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you. Over the last several weeks, many of you have experienced the effects of China’s unfair trade practices, or the impact of tariffs on steel and aluminum whether as a steel producer, a user of steel or aluminum, or an exporter facing retaliation. And although Section 301 tariffs have not been imposed, many of you have certainly also experienced market effects of the proposed U.S. tariffs and proposed retaliation by China. 

“I continue to believe it is vitally important for us to use a targeted approach in enforcing our trade laws, whether it is the Section 232 or Section 301 tariffs.  China’s distortions to the steel and aluminum market and its IP theft and forced technology demands are global problems that ultimately require global solutions. We should work as closely as possible with our allies, and we should never create disincentives for our allies to join us in taking strong action. The world, not just the U.S., must stand up to China’s unfair trade practices. 

“In addition, we must make sure that those who would be hurt by tariffs have a full opportunity to make their case and to seek an exclusion for fairly traded products. 

“I remain committed to working with President Trump and the White House on strong, enforceable trade policies that will target bad actors and encourage economic growth here at home. At the same time, we must avoid unintended consequences that hurt Americans.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to find a path forward with respect to fair trade.  Today and throughout the coming months, we will continue to listen to our constituents and job creators across the country to make sure we take their concerns into account each step of the way.”