Texas leaders are breaking with President Donald Trump on the issue of tariffs. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the president warning that tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as well as agricultural imports, could harm the Texas oil and gas industry and hurt Texas farmers. In the letter, Abbott offers praise for the president's effort to "modernize our nation's trade policies" and lauds Trump's overall economic policy. But Abbott writes, "I urge you to reconsider these tariffs in light of the unintended consequences for American industries."
Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, agrees with the governor. "We need pipelines and we need lots of them, and most of those items are made from specialty steel that isn't produced in large quantities in the U.S.," he tells KTRH. "We want to make certain that products are bought here when we can, but the reality is in many instances it's just not feasible to do."
Like Abbott, Staples is fully supportive of the president's overall economic agenda, including tax cuts and reducing regulations on business. "But when it comes to these tariffs, we're afraid it's going to cause more of a disruption to our economy and our job growth than it would otherwise," he says. "If we want to see the continued growth of our state's revenues--that funds our schools, our roads, our permanent university funds--headwinds like this detract from these investments being made."
The concerns expressed by Abbott and Staples about steel and aluminum tariffs mirror those made recently by the American Petroleum Institute. But Abbott also warns the president about agricultural tariffs, noting Texas exported about a billion dollars of agricultural products to China last year. "Texas farmers will be significantly affected" by the proposed tariffs on China, writes Abbott.