America’s Factory Workers in Limbo as Trump Heads to China
President must address China’s trade practices to restore domestic jobs
American factory workers are questioning President Trump’s commitment to restore manufacturing jobs as he prepares to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.
“Trump is losing support in the key industrial states that put him in office,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). “Trump talks a big talk, but workers are asking for action, and that includes shrinking trade deficits and responding to outstanding imports investigations.”
Since the campaign, Trump has pushed the need for a level playing field, but tweeting and speeches don’t fix trade imbalances. During Trump’s presidency, the trade deficit with China grew 8.3 percent compared to the first nine months of 2016.
“Factory workers were hopeful when they saw a string of executive orders leave the White House earlier this year,” Paul said. “But when given the opportunity to act on trade, the president is all hat and no cattle.”
Citing the Section 232 national security investigations, Paul notes that steel imports alone are up 20 percent since the investigations were announced in April, and at least two Pennsylvania steel mills have announced layoffs.
“What we want is for him to take action,” said steelworker Onika Rivera in a new AAM video. “[The administration was] going to start an investigation, and we haven’t heard anything. We’re in limbo.”
The investigations are one way to curb state-subsidized imports and restore domestic manufacturing jobs, according to the video, which walks viewers through the investigation timeline, including the administration’s promises, tweets and missed deadlines. That’s why over 66,000 workers have asked the White House to address the Section 232 investigations.
“The China visit is an opportunity for Trump to step up and actually do something tangible for American workers,” Paul said. “At some point, you’ve got to get on the field to move the ball. That means enforcing our trade laws and preventing the flood of state-subsidized imports.”
AAM recommends a five-pronged approach to balance U.S.-China trade relations, including reducing industrial overcapacity through trade enforcement and Section 232 action, tackling cyber theft, addressing state-owned enterprises and deterring currency manipulation.
“If you want to know what Trump is doing on trade, look at the steel industry,” Paul said. “He can tweet all he wants, but those jobs haven’t come back yet – and they won’t until Trump stands up to China’s predatory trade practices and takes action against the flood of steel and aluminum imports threatening domestic jobs.”