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Schweitzer criticizes tariff

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The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories president said that a tariff on Mexican imports is unlikely at this point.

The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories president said that a tariff on Mexican imports is unlikely at this point.

The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories president said that a tariff on Mexican imports is unlikely at this point.

DENNIS FARRELL | Evergreen reporter

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The president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Pullman’s largest private employer, said a proposed tariff on Mexican imports would undoubtedly cause retaliatory taxes from other countries, potentially creating a trade war.

However, Edmund O. Schweitzer III said the tax seems unlikely to be implemented at this point. He has contacted members of Congress, about 30 CEOs, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Schweitzer said the overwhelming consensus was that Trump’s proposed border adjustment tax, a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports to the U.S., would be a bad idea.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t like it and, frankly, I haven’t talked with anyone who does like it,” Schweitzer said. “Not one person.”

Schweitzer also said the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Ways and Means is behind the proposed tax as a means of cutting corporate tax rates. One of the main problems with this is that it would pass the tax burden onto consumers, he said.

If this border adjustment tax does pass, Schweitzer said it would cause more governmental interference with free trade, something he sees as not only a problem for SEL and the U.S., but the world in general.

“Whether you’re in Canada, Mexico, China, the U.S., Germany, you pick it, the world will suffer if we or anybody else ignites a trade war,” he said.

Schweitzer said there are components from other countries in nearly all SEL products, so if this tax were implemented, it would mean that the government would need to investigate whether companies like SEL were accurately reporting the imported content in their products. He said this would increase complications and could lead to a production decrease and potentially a loss of jobs.

SEL greatly values its business relationships with countries like Mexico, a nation they’ve been selling equipment to for 30 years, Schweitzer said, and the government’s implementation of this border adjustment tax would only hurt these relationships.

“Free trade floats all boats,” Schweitzer said.

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Schweitzer criticizes tariff