Gov. Pete Ricketts says a trade war would halt economic progress and hurt both manufacturing and agriculture in Nebraska.
Ricketts acknowledges any tariffs slapped on aluminum and steel will pinch the bottom line of Nebraska businesses.
“We’ve got manufacturers here in the state that are being impacted by this by seeing increased steel prices,” Ricketts tells reporters. “We need to get this resolved in a short period of time here, so that we make sure that we’re not hurting jobs here in Nebraska.”
At present, all is threat and speculation.
President Donald Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on aluminum and steel; and not just on China, but on imports from allies such as Canada and the European Union. Administration officials have offered to lift the tariffs if countries agree to quotas.
Countries targeted have threatened to counter with tariffs of their own as well as retaliatory measures such as raising tariffs on imports of U.S. agricultural goods.
Ricketts says Nebraska is caught in the middle.
“The tariffs we’re talking about that other countries are planning on putting on are with regard to agriculture. But if steel prices go up, then our manufacturers become less competitive when they want to sell in those foreign markets,” Ricketts says.
Another target of the Trump Administration which could have a big impact on Nebraska is the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. President Trump first signaled he wanted out of NAFTA, then agreed to seek modernization of NAFTA. He since has indicated he again wants to scrap the deal and seek separate individual trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.
Ricketts says he doesn’t care how the administration handles NAFTA as long as Canadian and Mexican markets remain open to Nebraska goods. Ricketts is leading a trade delegation to Mexico later this year.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]