New research finds that Maine would be one of the hardest-hit states if the European Union takes retaliatory measures in response to President Donald Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
A report by the Brookings Institution shows that 9.5 percent of Maine’s exports to Europe would likely be slapped with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration declines to grant an exemption to EU countries exporting metal to the United States.
The proposed new tariffs against American products would affect about $39 million worth of Maine exports to the EU, Brookings found, out of a total of $405 million last year.
The Europeans are eyeing possible tariffs on everything from cranberries to T-shirts. It is not clear from the report exactly what Maine industries might take a hit.
It is also not clear whether the administration will offer exemptions for European steel and aluminum. If it refuses, the EU has said it will impose new tariffs on American products in response, a first step in what could become a growing trade war.
The impact of higher prices on American products might be fewer export sales of the targeted goods, including rear-view mirrors, sweet corn and whiskey.
The only states that would get hit harder by the EU’s retaliatory proposals are Hawaii, Michigan and Missouri. Maine is the only New England state that would get socked harder than the national average.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, is skeptical about the tariffs sought by Trump.
“I share the president’s belief that there have been many poorly negotiated trade agreements that have harmed manufacturing jobs in Maine and across our country,” she said recently. “In the northern half of our state in particular, we have seen many pulp and paper mills close within the last five years, putting thousands of Mainers out of work through no fault of their own.
“Addressing unfair trade practices, however, requires a careful approach in order to avoid triggering retaliation from other countries. These tariffs could very well produce the opposite effect of what the president is trying to achieve, inadvertently causing further harm to American jobs and increasing the prices of consumer goods.”
She urged Trump “to work with Congress and our allies to address anti-competitive behaviors in order to protect our manufacturing industry and promote economic growth.”
Brookings is a century-old policy research think tank in the nation’s capital that issues studies on many issues facing the nation.
A chart from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., policy think tank, shows the impact of possible European Union retaliatory tariffs.