On Thursday, former Congressman Charles Boustany spoke at a town hall meeting in Lafayette. He is currently the spokesman for the nonpartisan group Tariffs Hurt The Heartland, which are opposed to the tariff increases that have been imposed by President Donald Trump.
At the meeting, Boustany described how much the Trump tariffs have hurt Louisiana businesses, consumers, and farmers. According to Boustany, Louisiana consumers and businesses have paid $85 million in additional tariffs since the trade war began last year. In addition, Louisiana exporters have been hit with $39 million in retaliatory tariffs.
Here’s a graphic released by the organization:
“The historic rise in costs for American businesses, farmers and consumers is only the beginning,” Boustany said during the town hall. “Tariffs are taxes on Americans, and every month this trade war continues these taxes will continue to go up.”
Which industries have been hurt the most by the Trump tariffs? Obviously, Louisiana’s farmers have been devastated since the state is a major exporter to China. Louisiana’s soybean farmers have seen record low crop prices since they have been all but cut off from the lucrative Chinese market. According to farmers, the uncertainty created by the trade war is costing them tens of thousands of dollars.
But among the hardest hit Louisiana industry is the oil and gas industry. “The biggest impact we’ve noticed is in the energy sector, which relies on imported steel and aluminum for things as varied as offshore platform applications to building materials for large LNG facilities,” said Eddy Hayes, a trade attorney at Leake & Andersson LLP and Chair of the World Trade Center of New Orleans. “We’ve witnessed a chilling effect in the energy sector due to both uncertainty of supply chain availability and significantly increased pricing for materials that are available.”
Among those who spoke at the town hall were representatives from the Port of New Orleans and Stephen Waguespack, the president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).
The Trump administration and its supporters claim the tariffs are necessary in order to protect American industries and secure more favorable trade deals for the U.S. They also claim that the tariffs are not harming the U.S. economy.
An example of what the Trump administration views as a favorable trade are the recently signed replacement to NAFTA, the USMCA. The Hayride spoke to Ashley Scorpio, a political aide who worked on trade policy in the previous Canadian government. She described the USMCA as a worse deal for Canada than NAFTA.
“Not only does the USMCA fail to improve upon NAFTA, it has also led to Canadian concessions in the auto, dairy, and pharmaceutical sectors. It will negatively impact Canadian businesses, consumers, and workers. Meanwhile, U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place further harming Canadian industry.” Scorpio said.
She also included some criticisms of the current Canadian government. “Canada’s Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to fetch a better deal for Canadians. In fact, it was under his weak leadership that Canada was nearly left out of the deal completely and only included at the eleventh hour.”
The USMCA’s prospects are uncertain since the Democrats took control of the U.S. House. If Congress fails to pass the USMCA, President Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA