Why Mitch McConnell sees both sides of the tariff debate

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Rates start to have some influence in a negative way." Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON – Republican senator Mitch McConnell of the Senate Wednesday promoted President Donald Trump's policy to quickly resolve festering trade disputes, particularly with China, and said the tariffs imposed by other countries in response to Trump's trade policy & # 39; red hot & # 39; American economy start to skimp.

Although he agrees with Trump's view that US policy on global trade should be stronger, McConnell also expressed his concern in an interview with Reuters about the consequences of growing trade strains, including in his home state of Kentucky.

Trump has been dealing hard with trade since he became president last year and complained that the United States was being treated unfairly, some international trade agreements were abandoned and threatened to withdraw from others and from the World Trade Organization. He has repeatedly raised rates for close allies and important trading partners, who have again committed their own duties.

"The rates are starting to get some effect in a negative way, so I hope we can make rapid progress on some of these other fronts, especially with China," McConnell told the roundtable discussion with Reuters journalists, although he said about the general American economy: "I think it's red-hot."

McConnell, the republican of Trump, said he hopes the government will prevent him from imposing rates of up to 25 percent on imported cars & SUVs, a problem he noted to strike alarm at car manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Corp., which builds the Camry in Kentucky.

"I hope that we end up in a better place and do not have to go that way" of additional rates for cars, McConnell said.

Trump's policy has deviated from the Republican orthodoxy that had embraced international free trade agreements. McConnell had previously warned of the possible economic consequences of retaliation rights imposed on the United States.

The United States has imposed hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. In September, Trump hit 10 percent rates on another $ 200 billion in Chinese imports. The European Union has imposed tariffs on bourbon from Kentucky, for example, while China has imposed rates on soybeans and other American goods.

The US Trade Representative's US office on Tuesday officially announced the plan to open trade talks with the European Union, Japan and Britain early next year.

& # 39; Rather now than never & # 39;

"If the end result of this is better trade relations with all these countries, especially if it happens earlier than later, I think it would be great," said McConnell.

Although some legislators have urged legislation to curb presidential authority in raising tariffs, McConnell said it was "highly unlikely" that Trump or a president would sign a measure that would give such authority. Congress in recent years gave "virtually all ball control on trade" to the White House, McConnell added.

McConnell said that China "has been eating lunch for years" for trade, adding that if Trump can reach a better deal on trade with Beijing than the status quo "that would be a big step forward." McConnell said he hopes "we can end sooner rather than later with a better relationship with China on the commercial side."

New US rates on the $ 200 billion of Chinese goods will rise to 25 percent on January 1, after the government had previously hit rates on $ 50 billion of Chinese goods.

McConnell said Tuesday that Congress will vote in 2019 on a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. He said on Wednesday that there was a "felt sense of relief" after the deal was announced with a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump criticized NAFTA as unfair to the United States.

The rates have a mixed effect in Kentucky, McConnell said, adding: "I have a new aluminum plant in Kentucky and they love it, and we have Toyota there and we think that is not the case."