Michigan is a state built on wheels. As the de-facto automotive capital of the world for over a century, Michigan is home to some of the largest and most recognizable car brands, and nearly 20 percent of our workforce is dedicated to building safe, reliable and affordable vehicles. These skilled men and women generate products for every stage of the automotive manufacturing supply chain, from engines and transmissions to headlights and upholstery. We are now becoming the epicenter of innovation, as electric power trains, autonomous vehicle capability and connected platforms are being developed for the next generation of mobility.
Manufacturing has created countless jobs for the people of Michigan, jobs now threatened by the looming trade war between the United States and China. Michiganders cannot afford to operate under an uncertain trade environment and tariffs that inflate raw materials costs. This creates a multiplier effect on the cost of production and hits consumers in their pocketbooks and force companies to outsource high-paying manufacturing jobs elsewhere. Automakers are facing unprecedented competition from new technologies and a rapidly changing market, we need solutions that help them compete.
This has particular consequences for advanced mobility technologies like battery packs for electric vehicles, in which vast resources and effort are being put into commercializing technology that will improve our quality of life. We have seen recent reports that the United States needs to take aggressive steps towards increasing the supply and production of rechargeable batteries needed for storing renewable energy and powering electrified transportation technology.
Not only do we need to end harmful trade wars, but we also must support pro-growth trade policies that will create jobs across Michigan. Currently, Congress is considering a modernized free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will be beneficial to Michigan’s trade dependent economy and is a trade policy that we should be pursuing.
After the economic collapse in 2008 Michigan was left in economic shambles. Leaders from state government and industry faced this catastrophe head-on and rebuilt the automotive industry to levels never seen before. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors paid back in full the loans taken from the federal government, with interest, restructuring the companies to be more competitive globally and ensuring the long-term health of American automotive manufacturing. Over the past several years, Michigan’s auto industry has soared to new heights, with experts crediting major automakers as key drivers in the economic recovery seen after the Great Recession. Now the industry is investing billions of dollars into electric power trains and advanced mobility technology crucial to winning the global ‘arms race.’
Each of the major auto manufacturers continued to drive growth in the American economy, and still do today, but costly tariffs on raw materials, namely tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, have undermined the full return of our domestic automakers as economic powerhouses. American consumers want cleaner and more efficient vehicle choices. Tariff policies negatively affect the development of these options, and as the price of fuel continues to rise, American consumers will once again be forced to foot the bill.
Automotive manufacturers rely too on a complex network of part suppliers from across Michigan for their finished product, with these smaller operations employing thousands of our citizens. RoMan manufacturing, a vehicle components manufacturer based in Wyoming, Michigan, has been forced to look for outside vendors to source critical components, looking outside of the US into Israeli markets as high prices cut into profit margins. This outsourcing hurts American business, and threatens Michigan jobs.
Since his election in 2016, President Trump has delivered on his promise to promote American business, reducing government red tape and lowering taxes on domestic companies. It is my hope the president will see the damage his trade policies are causing in our state and act to end the trade war plaguing our manufacturing sector. The Administration should heed Senator Charles Grassley’s recent comments, and cement its legacy as a pro-growth, pro-made in America, and global leader in trade. The President should end costly and damaging tariffs on Chinese products and continue to work to push for the USMCA.
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