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How is the Trade War Effecting Oregon?

Oregon is home to businesses of all sizes, from large manufacturers such as Intel, Nike, and Columbia Sportswear to small local businesses. With new trade tariffs being imposed, many have wondered what possible impact this will have on Oregon’s economy.

According to the Portland Business Alliance, one in five Oregon jobs are connected to trade. The largest export relationship Oregon has is with China, who accounts for twenty percent of Oregon’s export profits. This makes sense, considering Oregon’s location in relationship to the Asian markets. Unfortunately for Oregon, many of the newly imposed tariffs may hurt that relationship with China, leaving Oregon to face potential impacts in its biggest fields of trade: Agriculture, Apparel, Manufacturing, and Technology.

Some of the most recent tariffs that have been imposed include a 10% duty on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, and a 15% hike on Hazelnuts, which has hit Oregon’s agricultural field hard. 99% of hazelnuts grown in the U.S. come from Oregon, who exports over half of them, 90% of those exports being to China. The hazelnut sector alone accounts for more than 800 farms and $90 million in annual revenue. To help farmers, the United States Senate passed the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019, which raised the debt limit for farmers looking to file Chapter 12 bankruptcy from $4.3 million to $10 million. While this may provide some short term relief, the continuation of the trade war could turn this act into a credit risk for many family farms.

Larger manufacturers such as Intel and Nike may be able to absorb the impact of these tariffs in the short-term, but in the long term consumers may see more effects of the tariffs. Tim Boyle, President and CEO of Columbia Sportswear Company stated,”If tariffs are imposed, Columbia Sportswear Company, along with many other manufacturers in our industry will be forced to raise prices on our products. This is a massive tax on employers and consumers, not on China.”

What are some possible outcomes of continued tariffs? Companies begin to look for other locations in which to manufacture their goods in order to get around the tariffs. China could sate their agricultural needs from other countries such as Turkey, who is the world’s number one hazelnut supplier. If Oregon companies were to begin to find ways around the tariffs by switching where they are doing business, or were to lose access to some of the trade relations with China, what guarantee is there that should the trade war end they would return? There are no guarantees.

What tariffs do you believe are impacting Oregon businesses the most? How have Oregon consumers seen the effects of these tariffs, if at all?

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