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MCALLEN, RGV – The Border Trade Alliance has joined 50 other trade groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 222 state and local chambers of commerce in urging Congress to approve or reject any new tariffs the president imposes based on national security concerns.

The groups, which represent companies like Amazon, General Motors and Walmart, sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. senators Tuesday in support of a bill introduced this month by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that would hand control of “Section 232” back to Congress. Corker’s bill is strongly opposed by President Trump. 

Sam Vale of Rio Grande City chairs BTA’s public policy committee.

“We signed this letter because we do not believe that Sec. 232 claims against our allies should be used to make the case for establishing trade barriers, which will hurt our economy,” the Border Trade Alliance (BTA) tweeted Tuesday.

The Bureau of Industry & Security within the U.S. Department of Commerce uses Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to investigate the effect of imports on national security.

Trump has used national security concerns to impose tariffs on steel, aluminum and other goods that have triggered a global backlash from the US’s largest trading partners, the Guardian reports.

USA Today first reported the letter sent to U.S. senators by the U.S. Chamber, 51 trade groups and 222 state and local chambers of commerce. 

“The U.S. business and agriculture communities are deeply concerned that the President’s unrestricted use of section 232 to impose tariffs may not be in the national interest,” the letter states. “It is now also increasingly clear that the way the steel and aluminum tariffs have been used will result in retaliatory tariffs from our largest trading partners and closest allies, and that retaliation will have serious negative economic impacts on the United States.”

While President Trump is increasing tariffs, the Border Trade Alliance says the should be decreased, arguing that access to imports improves Americans’ buying power and quality of life. The BTA recently said:

“At the time of NAFTA’s negotiation and its implementation, few could have imagined things like e-commerce, a liberalized Mexican energy market, the growth of just-in-time manufacturing, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), or a truly competitive political system in Mexico. 

“In the ensuing decades, however, the North American economy and the region’s manufacturing supply chain has been revolutionized and has become highly integrated. Over five million jobs in the U.S. alone can be attributed to NAFTA. The agreement has proven central to the entire region’s competitiveness. 

“While the BTA would acknowledge that some sectors of the economy have faced real challenges during the agreement’s life, a pivot to higher tariffs and protectionist policies would reduce access to new markets for U.S.-made goods and limit competition on store shelves here at home, resulting in a spike in the cost of living. Reducing consumer purchasing power also drives down demand for U.S. goods. 

“A reduction in tariffs and access to imports makes a real difference in American families’ lives, saving the average household $10,000 annually. And trade’s benefits aren’t just enjoyed by manufacturers. U.S. services exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled during NAFTA’s existence, rising from $27 billion pre-NAFTA to $92 billion in 2014.”

President Trump attacked Harley-Davidson after the motorcycle manufacturer said it would move some production overseas in order to avoid the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. 

The European Union has said it will implement tariffs — up to 31 percent from 6 percent — on goods imported from the U.S. in response to President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows Paola Avila, chairwoman of the Border Trade Alliance. Avila is vice president of international business affairs for San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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