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Michigan companies concerned over future effect of high Chinese and U.S. tariffs

Rep. Fred Upton meet with executives to discuss tariffs, trade and other economic issues.jpg
Fred Upton hears first hand how tariffs are affecting jobs and quality products in Michigan.(WWMT/Tarvarious Haywood)

Leaders from companies like Whirlpool, Kinexus and Vail Rubber met with U.S. Rep. Fred Upton at Kinexus Group headquarters in Benton Harbor to voice their concerns in the midst of a trade war with China.

China announced it would raise tariffs on U.S. imports by $60 billion in retaliation for tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump.

“Some of the manufacturers are saying let's play the long-term game. We want a level playing field with China and we want to make sure we get the best deal from China. In the near future, we are going to have to sit back and wait and see how this all shakes out,” Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson said.

Kinexus works with different businesses to develop an effective workplace in Michigan and Gustafson said in Michigan manufacturing jobs are the primary economic driver with about 400 plus firms.

He said there are jobs in the manufacturing business that pay great money, but until there is a resolution with tariffs and the trade war there is a lot of uncertainty in those businesses.

“We have been here for a 100 years and we have weathered a lot of storms and we are very competitive in our markets, but at the end of the day we can’t continue to take it on both sides,” Matt Wahn, of Gast Manufacturing, said.

The biggest issues the Michigan companies said they face are finding talent and buying quality goods, like aluminum and steel. Both materials have been the target of a previous tariff imposed by Trump on China.

Wahn told Upton they want to bring the best quality materials to the county, but they are being taxed with products coming in and going out of Asia.

As business leaders, all they want is a level playing field which is something they say they are not getting right now.

Upton said he hopes negotiators get back to the table soon to come up with an agreement between the two countries.

Upton said, “We are trying to get a new agreement with China, I know, and let’s hope that this trade war that started ends soon and we can get back to a life that we expect without the tariffs that are otherwise are going to promote unbalance in the trade between our two nations.”