Donald Trump stopped short of wreaking total havoc on the U.S. economy Friday by pressing snooze for at least six months on imposing another round of tariffs—this time on auto and car part imports from the European Union and Japan. But that didn’t stop Trump from foreshadowing the fate awaiting any region of the U.S. that has built an economy around foreign auto manufacturing plants that produce cars and auto parts right here in the U.S.
“The European Union treats us worse than China,” Trump told a gathering of the National Association of Realtors, as if it was relevant to them. “They send Mercedes-Benzes here like they’re cookies.”
Anyone in Alabama who does anything related to the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa may want to start paying attention to the absolute beating American farmers have taken since Trump began his trade war with China. Living paycheck to paycheck, bankruptcies, maybe a bail out check or two to buy back your vote—that’s all headed your way courtesy of Trump’s trade whims. More than 3,700 Alabamans are employed at the Tuscaloosa Mercedes plant.
Just last month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was bragging about all the new economic investments that made 2018 a banner year for her state. Among the growth areas:
Alabama’s auto industry recorded an especially strong year for growth, highlighted by the Mazda-Toyota partnership’s decision to locate a coveted joint assembly plant in Huntsville. The project represents a $1.6 billion investment and the creation of 4,000 direct jobs.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz launched construction on a battery assembly plant in Bibb County that will create 325 jobs and facilitate production of Alabama-built electric vehicles. Hyundai and Honda also announced expansion projects in 2018, while several suppliers selected Alabama locations for their growth plans.
Did we mention that Trump has his eye on slapping auto tariffs on Japan too, along with the EU?
So yeah, anyone employed by Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota in Alabama may want to start paying attention to Trump’s auto tariff threats. Not to mention anyone who works in the automobile and logistics industry all along the I-85 corridor from Montgomery to Atlanta to the Upstate of South Carolina to Charlotte. In fact, right around the same time in the early- to mid-‘90s that Mercedes located a plant in Alabama, BMW settled into the Upstate of South Carolina.
Now the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce boasts:
With an annual economic impact of more than $27 billion, the automotive sector is now an integral part of the state’s economy. As a result, a wide range of companies—automakers, automotive suppliers and component manufacturing—are all based in South Carolina.
BMW has already warned the Trump administration that imposing new tariffs could threaten some 45,000 jobs in the region. Toyota has told Trump he is endangering 450,000 jobs in the US. Does he care? Of course not.
To be sure, there’s more U.S.-based foreign auto manufacturing plants located across the country than there is space to name-check them in this post. But the Southeast is Trump’s backyard. His absolute bedrock base of support comes from that region, and if Trump imposes auto tariffs on foreign auto companies, it will send economic shock waves through that region. But the goobers won’t care . . . just so they can keep their guns and put black folks in the back of the bus and make abortion illegal.