Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday said that the president’s zero tariff goal would help auto workers in Tennessee, where automotive jobs have nearly doubled since 1994 when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.
He said, “President Trump’s stated trade goal last month of ‘zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies’ is exactly the right goal for Tennessee autoworkers and a welcome movement away from piling tariffs on top of tariffs that threaten to destroy jobs and lower family incomes.
Today, we have a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Tariffs on imported steel raise the price of U.S. produced steel, and the price of steel is up 40 percent since January. According to Nissan, steel accounts for 70 percent of the vehicle weight of the cars and trucks built at their plants in Tennessee and Mississippi – so when the price of steel goes up 40% costs go up thousands of dollars.”
Senator Alexander chaired a hearing today in the Senate labor committee to discuss the impact of President Trump’s zero tariffs goal on U.S. autoworkers. Alexander also discussed how zero tariff policies, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have benefitted autoworkers.
At the G7 Summit on June 9, President Trump said, “no tariffs, no barriers. That’s the way it should be.” When President Trump met with the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker, on July 25, he announced “We agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers.
“Tennessee’s automotive industry is so important to me because in 1978, when I was running for governor, Tennessee did not have hardly any auto jobs. Now, 136,000 Tennesseans – one third of our state’s manufacturing jobs – work in the automotive industry at plants and suppliers in 88 of our 95 counties. One of the reasons Tennessee has been able to have so much success building cars and SUV’s is because the North American Free Trade Agreement is fundamentally a zero tariff trade agreement.
“For example, several years ago, Nissan had an internal competition between its automotive manufacturing plants in Japan, South Korea and Smyrna, Tennessee, to decide which one of the plants would build the new Nissan Rogue. The Smyrna plant won the competition, and NAFTA’s zero tariff policies were a big reason Nissan chose to build the Rogue in Tennessee. NAFTA allows Nissan to move parts between the U.S., Canada and Mexico tariff-free, which makes it cheaper to build the Rogue in Tennessee than it would be in South Korea or Japan. NAFTA has had the effect of getting more companies to make here what they sell here – and Tennessee’s auto jobs have nearly doubled since NAFTA went into effect.”
Click here for a transcript of the senator’s remarks as soon as it becomes available.