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Study: Tariffs on metals will cost U.S. agriculture billions

By Jessie Higgins
Study: Tariffs on metals will cost U.S. agriculture billions
Purdue economists said the trade deal with Canada and Mexico would increase food exports to those countries by about $454 million annually. But if the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in place, exports to those countries will decrease by $1.8 billion. File Photo by Jessie Higgins/UPI

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 24 (UPI) -- United States tariffs on steel and aluminum will cost the nation nearly $2 billion in agricultural exports each year -- even if a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada is ratified, according to a study from Purdue University.

Purdue economists said the trade deal would increase food exports to those countries by about $454 million annually. But if the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum -- and the associated retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural products -- remain in place, exports to those countries will decrease by $1.8 billion.

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"In terms of exports, it is relatively sizable when compared to the relative benefits we would get from the new trade deal," said Maksym Chepeliev, a research economist at Purdue, who was one of the authors of the study released Wednesday.

In the face of those losses, dozens of national agricultural groups joined together to ask the Trump administration to lift the tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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"For many farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue for them from USMCA," the groups wrote Wednesday in a letter to the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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The letter was signed by representatives of 46 groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Pork Producers Council.

The Trump administration levied a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from Canada and Mexico on June 1. Canada and Mexico responded with a tariffs on U.S. products, including pork and corn.

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The USMCA was signed by leaders of the three nations Nov. 30, but it awaits Congress' approval for the U.S. to formally enter into the agreement.

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