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Trump Tackles Trade in Press Conference

At Donald Trump’s first press conference since winning the election, the President-elect doubled down on his promise to punish companies that move jobs from the U.S. to another country.

Citing the Carrier situation as an example, he praised its parent company, United Technologies, for working with him and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to save jobs that were scheduled to move to Mexico. That adulation was followed quickly by a warning.

“The word is now out, that when you want to move your plant to Mexico or some other place, and you want to fire all of your workers from Michigan and Ohio and all these places that I won, for good reason, it’s not going to happen that way anymore,” he said, adding for those companies that make that decision, there will be consequences. “There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder. And if our politicians had what it takes, they would have done this years ago.”

To incentivize Made-in-America, Republicans have already been championing a measure that would impose steep taxes on goods imported into the U.S. Instead of simply paying taxes on profits from goods sold, companies would pay that tax (at a lower rate) plus an additional tax on the cost of goods imported. For the apparel industry, which imports up to 95 percent of all clothing sold here, the move could have huge consequences. And that seems to be the point.

Trump’s argument is that we have a large country with many people who are out of work so the potential for manufacturing here is plentiful. The import taxes, he said, will be put in place to protect the “96 million [Americans who are] really wanting a job and they can’t get it.”

Trump was also very critical of past administrations. “We don’t make good deals anymore; we make bad deals. Our trade deals are a disaster,” he said. “We have hundreds of billions of dollars of losses on a yearly basis—hundreds of billions with China on trade and trade imbalance, with Japan, with Mexico, with just about everybody.”

To help correct the ills the President-elect has identified with our current trade situation, the new administration has been discussing imposing a 10 percent tariff on all imports. This follows Trump’s campaign threats to slap a 45 percent tax on goods imported from China, specifically.

Thus far, the apparel industry is intently waiting and watching to see if the new tariffs might materialize and, if so, in what final form.

Read the entire transcript from the press conference on The New York Times.