Sen. Sullivan slams Trump’s steel, aluminum tariffs because they could hurt Alaska: Report

Sen. Dan Sullivan. (2016 Halifax International Security Forum/Flickr Creative Commons)

Sen. Dan Sullivan is not thrilled with President Donald Trump’s pending plans to introduce steep tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum, saying they’d be bad for Alaska.

Sullivan made the comments to Alaska Public Media in a report published today, making him one of a growing group of Republicans and industry members worried about the tariffs. The tariffs are expected to be introduced tomorrow.

The tariffs have raised the specter of a trade war, with the European Union threatening to raise politically motivated tariffs targeting goods produced by key U.S. legislators (Harley-Davidson motorcycles made in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district, bourbon made in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky and Levi’s blue jeans with its headquarters in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s hometown).

“And you know, I do worry about retaliation,” Sullivan told the outlet. “I also worry about retaliation with regard to Alaska products. Right? We’re a huge exporter, particularly of fish and natural resource products.”

Alaska Public Media reports that Sullivan had recent meetings with energy industry executives, who told Sullivan that a tariff on imported steel “could be bad for energy projects in Alaska, including the proposed pipeline to carry liquefied natural gas from the North Slope.” That 800-mile pipeline project got a boost personally from Trump during his trip to Asia last year when he and China President Xi Jinping oversaw the signing of agreements between Chinese banks and energy companies and Alaska. The two are currently working on plans to bring the project to build the project.

It’s not the first of Trump’s America-first trade policies that put the state’s pipeline project in peril. Last year, he announced that he would require all pipelines be built with American-made steel. At the time there were no plants in the U.S. that were currently capable of producing enough 42-inch pipeline needed to cover the 800-mile route. The proposal faced enormous push back from the energy industry, and appears to have been quietly abandoned by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration has already signaled plans it could exclude Canada and Mexico from the tariffs.

Trump’s decision to go down the tariff route was one of the main drivers for the departure of Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, another reason Sullivan said he has to be concerned about the Tariffs.

“Gary Cohn’s actually been one of the guys who’s been very strongly focused on helping the AKLNG project, in the White House,” Sullivan said. “So from that perspective, it’s not a positive development.”

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