U.S. manufacturers added 16,000 workers in July, the most of any month since January, but they won’t be able to keep up that momentum unless Washington resolves the trade issues keeping company executives awake at night.
The Washington Examiner reported that congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Trump administration’s revision of the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement, and securing a pact with China to end a trade war “are necessary ingredients to ensuring manufacturers in the United States can continue to prosper and grow,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist with the National Association of Manufacturers.
The industry’s outlook increases pressure on Trump, who promised during his 2016 campaign to buoy U.S. factories and has been criticized for instead imposing tariffs on imported goods that crimp profits for not only manufacturers, but farmers and retailers as well.
The tactic “will only inflict greater pain on American businesses, farmers, workers and consumers, and undermine an otherwise strong U.S. economy,” said Myron Brilliant, head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We urge the two sides to recommit to achieving progress in the very near term before these new tariffs come into effect.”
With a little more than a year remaining until voters decide whether to grant him a second term, Trump opted Thursday to stick with his strategy rather than back away, promising 10% duties on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports not covered under previous levies of 25%.
Businesses and investors reacted with dismay, and economists said that U.S. trade conflicts — which also encompass threatened levies on Indian and Vietnamese imports, automobiles, and parts and French wines — represent an increasing threat to the labor market.
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