Prior to a closed meeting Tuesday (Aug. 27) morning of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) in Elkhart, Ind., Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., shared with RVBUSINESS.com her goal of keeping the RV and trailer manufacturing industry informed on trade tariffs.
“I just think it’s really important that we get together to keep a lot of the entities affected by these issues of trade and tariffs informed on what is going on,” said Walorski, who has served in Congress since 2013 and is also an RV Caucus co-chair and Ways and Means Committee member. . “Indiana’s second district is one of the largest manufacturing districts in the nation, not just the Midwest, primarily from building RVs, boats and trailers. That’s why I’ve been involved in making sure we have an opportunity to mitigate those tariffs for the last 18 months.”
The congresswoman said she has been successful in getting the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs alleviated for Canadian and Mexican suppliers, but still has a long way to go when it comes to the tariffs on China.
“Those were a couple of positive steps but I think it’s really important today to bring a lot of folks around the table from our district to find out how it is affecting them and share what we know to be true about the current situation,” she stated. “There are a lot of rumors around. This is just a chance to share good information on what our companies can do, especially when we are working on getting them on the exclusion list. Our office has been extremely effective in establishing a lot of tweaks and fairness on the exclusion process through the commerce department.”
Even though the tariffs in effect are adversely affecting the tier suppliers and OEMs of her district, the Congresswoman stated there is still strong support for the stance President Trump has taken.
“What we’ve heard mostly from the agricultural and the manufacturing communities is that they are pleased that the president has gone to the table with the Chinese,” she said. “The fact is that this is the farthest any American president has been able to go in bringing a Chinese president to the table. I continue to be optimistic that there will be an agreement. I don’t know when, but I do think it will happen.”
Walorski stressed that before an agreement is in hand, other political elements must come to fruition.
“The USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement) has to pass first,” she stated. “Speaker Pelosi has to bring it down and have it pass, I believe, before we get a Chinese American agreement.”
“It will pass,” she said. “I’m always hopeful. I am the eternal optimist. That worked out with rolling back Section 232.”
The NATM meeting that followed was purported to cover the current trade climate, opportunities for exclusion and engagement, as well as forecasting for ongoing trade negotiations as the main topics of discussion for the gathering. The event ran from 8:30-11 a.m. and also featured presentations from Walorski’s Chief of Staff and Trade Advisor Mike Dankler, and Stacy Ettinger of K&L Gates for an industry perspective.
In addition to the event, Walorski will also help kick off the RV Open House in Elkhart on Sept. 23 by keynoting the RV Women’s Alliance Breakfast. She will also be in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the RV Technical Institute’s grand opening.
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) has been working closely with Walorski on these issues and encourages its members to attend related events to gain insight about the current trade issues at hand, according to Kendra Ansley, executive director of the NATM.
“This event is just a great opportunity for our members to come together and learn more about what is happening with trade right now,” she said. “Obviously, the tariffs are a hot topic for a lot of industries but ours is particularly hit,” Ansley said. “This effects aluminum, steel, but also component parts such as jacks, couplers, axles, as well,” concluded Ansley.