Jeff Webb Commentary: Stop Carping About Tariffs

by Jeff Webb


The economic revival we have experienced since the election of Donald Trump is getting a new boost from what would traditionally be viewed as an unlikely source – trade tariffs.

The multipronged attack by this administration on the sluggish economy of the previous eight years is based on reducing corporate and individual taxes, providing capital investment incentives, dramatically reducing strangling regulations and a full assault on unfair and one sided international trade relationships.

It should now be clear that the president is using the threat of US tariffs to incent other nations to abandon their policies that have in many cases led to the elimination of millions of jobs and made it next to impossible for US companies to do business in their respective countries.

Mr. Trump is playing the long game here.  He knows that addressing these unfair practices will help boost the overall economy and reverse the outflow of manufacturing jobs that has eviscerated the middle class in our country over the past 25 years.  It will also provide new markets for American companies and address the theft of intellectual property and technology.

It is disingenuous to paint the picture that the president is unilaterally imposing sanctions on other countries.  He isn’t.  He is asking for reciprocity.  When we do business with a particular country, we want the same rules and same access that those counties have to our markets here in the US.  And remember, he has stated that true free trade where the same rules apply to all countries is the ultimate objective.

It is true that during this period of negotiation the implementation of certain tariffs will negatively impact specific industries and companies in the short term. Mr. Trump has supported creating special temporary programs to ease the pain in these instances and we should all share in this burden. However, when our foreign trading relationships are ultimately reset in a fair and reciprocal way, we should expect a major uplifting for our overall economy that will affect all of our citizens in a positive way for years to come.

Politicians should refrain from generally carping about tariffs in order to score points with their constituents. This not only undermines the president’s negotiating position and the ultimate outcome, it also jeopardizes the amazing momentum we have seen over the past 20 months that has positively affected so many of our citizens.

Up next – China. I’m betting on the president.

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Jeff Webb is a Memphis entrepreneur and the founder of Varsity Brands.









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