Eau Claire Chamber's Eggs and Issues discusses trade war and international tariffs

Published: Aug. 17, 2018 at 12:39 PM CDT
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More than $1 billion of exports from Wisconsin are in trouble because of tariffs and retaliatory actions from other countries, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"We have some challenges, we have some issues but I think it's also important to realize some good things are happening in Washington,” said John Kirchner the U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive director of the Midwest region.

Nearly 50 chamber members attended the august Eggs and Issues to hear from U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive director, John Kirchner. He updated Eau Claire on issues in Washington including immigration, tax reform, health reform and infrastructure. "I think it's important for them to stay engaged in the political process and policy process,” Kirchner said.

But the largest item on the agenda was the impact of international tariffs. "This isn't just about the products we are building and trying to export, this isn't just about the products we are trying to import this affects virtually every business, every employer, every employee and every consumer out there,” Kirchner said.

The additional taxes are hitting hard in Eau Claire for manufacturers and those in the agricultural industry. "We have a lot of manufacturers who use steel, we have a lot of agricultural business and farmers who are exporting and the tariffs are only getting worse and they are actually going to start costing money to real people,” said Scott Rogers of the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce.

This includes the 87 percent of Wisconsin exporters who are small or medium sized businesses. "Often times we think about someone that's exporting a product and we think about a big business, we think Harley Davidson but what we don't think about all of the manufacturers and suppliers that are providing parts that go into these products that are being exported,” Kirchner said.

Leaving an unknown future for many Eau Claire businesses. "Higher prices, reduction in profit sometimes making people lose money and it's going to be a drag on the economy and we're very concerned about it,” Rogers said.