One of Donald Trump’s biggest and most widely celebrated campaign promises was encapsulated in the catch phrase “America First.” This slogan, one that spoke to Trump’s base, covered the proposed border wall and immigration reform, the aggressive new stance of the military, and even trade. And now he’s delivering on that promise, too.
The new tariffs are being imposed on imports of washing machines and solar panels.
“The move is in line with President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy, which aims to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition,” the BBC reports. “Mr. Trump has talked about taking the action ever since coming to office. In his inauguration speech a year ago he promised to protect US borders from other countries ‘making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs’.”
A White House spokesman said the administration will “always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businessmen.”
This move has not been celebrated by the countries that manufacture these goods. Numerous American companies have taken production offshore in an attempt to keep consumer costs down, and profits high.
Two of the biggest exporters are South Korea and China. This is the second move in Trump’s high-stakes game of chess. The first was his decision to remove the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal (TPP). Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) is also in the works.
The new tariffs come in response to a US International Trade Commission (ITC) report that found manufacturers in the U.S. were unable to compete with the price of foreign imports.
“The tariffs set on solar panels were lower than domestic US producers had hoped for,” the BBC writes, “but the duties on washing machines and parts were steeper than expected – adding as much as 50% in some cases, according to US documents.”
“The first 1.2 million imported large residential washing machines in the first year will have a 20% tariff imposed on them, while there will be a 50% tariff on machines above that number.”
“Meanwhile, the tariff increase on imported solar cells and modules in the first year will be 30%, falling to 15% by the fourth year, although 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of imported cells – enough for about 11.5 million panels – will be allowed in tariff-free annually.”
The hope is that American companies will rebound. If prices on imports go up, there will be more incentive to resume manufacturing here, and more incentive for Americans to support American companies.