Business

Midwest supply managers support Trump's trade tariffs with China

Survey finds imports rising, exports falling

Steel rods produced at the Gerdau Ameristeel mill in St. Paul, Minn., await shipment in May 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, Fi
Steel rods produced at the Gerdau Ameristeel mill in St. Paul, Minn., await shipment in May 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
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A mid-November survey of supply managers in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states found 60 percent of respondents support continued, or even expanded, trade restrictions and tariffs on imports from China.

Only 17 percent of those responding to the November Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions survey said their companies will absorb the cost of the tariffs. About 77 percent expect consumers to pick up the tab.

Imports rose as supply managers advanced their purchasing overseas to combat the impending tariffs set to take effect this month.

New export orders plummeted as international customers reacted to the nation’s trade strategy.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 48.6 last month, from 52.6 in October — its lowest level in three years. Readings above 50 indicate a growing regional economy and those below 50 indicate a declining economy.

The survey was sent to approximately 380 supply managers, according to Ernie Goss, director of Creighton’s Economic Forecasting Group, which compiled the survey and index.

“Slow global growth and trade skirmishes and wars are negatively affecting growth among manufacturers in the region,” Goss said. “I expect business confidence to depend heavily on trade talks with China, and the passage of the nation’s trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, or USMCA.

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“Quick passage of USMCA is very important for the regional economy and business confidence.”

After rising above 53.5 in October, Iowa’s overall business conditions index slumped to 49.2 in November.

“Over the past 12 months the state’s manufacturing sector has lifted hourly wages by 3.2 percent, seventh in the nine-state region,” Goss said. “Agriculture equipment manufacturers are adding jobs at a slow pace, while transportation equipment producers are losing jobs at a measured pace.”

States included in the survey were Iowa, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma.

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