President Trump's "America first" trade policy could actually lose 2.6 million American jobs, the Chamber of Commerce warned on Thursday.
That's according to a confidential memo CEO Tom Donohue sent to the Chamber's board of directors, CNN Money reported. Citing outside studies, the memo totaled the effect of Trump's tariffs — both threatened and recently enacted — plus the withdrawal from NAFTA he has promised.
Leaving NAFTA would lose 1.8 million American jobs in the first year, the memo said. Tariffs against China could lose 134,000 U.S. jobs, steel and aluminum tariffs could cut 70,000 jobs, and tariffs on cars and auto parts could cost 157,000 jobs.
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"On each of these issues, the Chamber has privately and publicly expressed our concerns to the administration and to Congress about the economic damage that an escalating series of back and forth tariffs would have on our own country," wrote Donohue.
Donohue sent the memo the same day that Trump announced he would slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, the European Union and Mexico — the country's three biggest trading partners.
On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $12.8 billion in retaliatory tariffs against American products, ranging from steel and sailboats to toilet appear. The EU have vowed to enact their own tariffs on U.S.-made goods, including motorcycles, whiskey, peanut butter and denim.
What is the Trump trade policy?
Against the advice of economists, labor experts and several prominent Republicans — Sen. Jeff Flake called the tariffs "dumb" — Trump has pressed ahead with tariffs that he believes will create American jobs and correct unfair trading practices. But a number of American industries have slammed the tariffs: The beverage industry says that higher-priced aluminum will cause them to pay higher prices for aluminum cans. That results in higher prices for consumers, who buy less of the product, which results in layoffs to cope with decreased demand.
In his memo, Donohue said the people Trump claims he'd help are exactly who will be hurt by the tariffs. "The current approach will deliver the greatest economic pain to precisely those areas of the country that the administration and the Congressional majority are counting on for continued political support," he wrote. "It is worth remembering that a tariff is nothing more than a tax, and it is not paid by the exporting country— it is paid by the American people."