Last week, the nationwide campaign Tariffs Hurt The Heartland hosted a town hall meeting in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the impact the federal governments’ tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese imports are having on businesses in the state. Tariffs Hurt The Heartland is hosting similar town halls across the U.S. The campaign is supported by the coalitions Farmers For Free Trade and Americans For Free Trade, of which PPAI is a member. Anne Stone, the Association’s director of public affairs, attended the meeting in Dallas.

“Tariffs are taxes,” says Stone. “Instead of tariffs, we encourage the administration to focus on meaningful negotiations on how we can hold trading partners accountable without taxing American families.”

Kat Thompson, CEO at Texas Ale Project, a local brewery where the town hall was held, shared how incremental increases on aluminum are affecting her bottom line—a one-cent increase per can quickly adds up when you use hundreds of thousands of cans—and bringing other hardships to her operation. She says, “Right now Texas Ale Project is concerned about the supply levels and pricing of aluminum cans and lids for our canned beers. Normally we order with a three-week lead time on receiving the lids; however, just recently our supplier informed us this has jumped to a 12- to 14-week lead time. We were told the large beverage manufacturers were buying up their supplies of aluminum lids, which the supplier attributed to an anticipation of cost increases due to the steel and aluminum tariffs.”

Scott Frazier, a south Texas farmer and secretary-treasurer of the Texas Farm Bureau warned of retaliatory tariffs from other counties and of the long-term effects of U.S. agriculture being shut out of foreign markets. “One quarter of our agricultural products grown in the U.S. are exported to other countries,” Frazier says. “The economic well-being of American agriculture depends on maintaining and strengthening our export markets, and farm and ranch families depend on this to survive.”

In an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Tariff Hurts The Heartland reports that for the most recent month available, August 2018, the amount of tariffs paid increased by $1.4 billion—or 45 percent—as compared to tariffs paid in August 2017. Tariff costs more than doubled in Texas to $424 million.

“These tariffs are taxes on American businesses and consumers,” says Tariffs Hurt the Heartland spokesperson Angela Hofmann. “They aren’t paid by other countries. They are paid here at home. What this data shows is that we are already seeing a steep increase both nationally and at the state level in the tariff costs businesses and consumers are paying.

“This is just the very tip of the iceberg. The data released today offers a glimpse at the coming pain from the trade war. Once the tariffs on an additional $200 billion in goods kick in, these numbers will continue to trend sharply upward. We are hopeful that this data, combined with the personal stories of harm that we’re sharing across America, will encourage this administration to move away from tariffs and to find new solutions to grow access to foreign markets.”

PPAI is working with experts both within and outside the industry to develop tools for promotional products businesses to stay informed of, identify and navigate the tariffs and their effects. Follow PPB Newslink for more information in the coming weeks. The Association also encourages industry companies to communicate with supply chain partners, clients and end users about the tariffs and their impact.