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CEO DATELINE – Association CEOs warn of looming trade war

July 11, 2018
By Walt Williams

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The top executives of three of Washington, D.C.’s largest trade associations are warning that President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on many foreign imports risks starting a trade war that would fall hardest on U.S. consumers.

In a Washington Examiner op-ed, American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard, American Chemistry Council CEO Cal Dooley and Association of American Railroads CEO Ed Hamberger said Trump’s actions would add “hundreds of billions of dollars in potential costs for American businesses.”

“Our industries generate growth and savings that directly benefit U.S. households and small businesses,” the three CEOs said. “Fortified by free trade and fueled by the American energy revolution, these sectors support millions of jobs in the U.S. and across an array of industries.

“Tariffs put those benefits at risk,” they added.

The op-ed is only the latest salvo in a prolonged advocacy battle by many associations to get Trump to dump the tariffs imposed on China and U.S. allies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a state-by-state analysis of economic impacts of the tariffs while many other groups have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the president’s actions.

The three CEOs noted that China is threatening to retaliate against U.S. chemical exports. Such a move “will hit the U.S. chemical industry not once, but twice by closing China’s market both to chemical exports and exports of finished products using chemicals in their production, including agricultural goods and automobiles.”

The executives also argued the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a boon for the U.S. Trump officials currently are renegotiating the deal and the president has suggested he would pull out of the agreement if the U.S. does not get more favorable terms.