While Trump fights for border tax, Hagerstown auto dealer advocating for free trade


Since he began his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has talked about improving on trade, in hopes of giving American workers an advantage.

He’s also made it clear he’s against more federal regulations on businesses.

“Their damaging effects on our small businesses, our economy, our entrepreneurial spirit…it’s been very badly damaged,” Trump said. “So, the American dream is back.”

However, a future trade barrier that features a 20 percent border tax on all imports from Mexico could have the opposite effect on many industries. It’s meant to fund the proposed wall on the Mexican border, but it could hurt the production and sales of international vehicles in this country.

“Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW – they all have plants in the United States hiring American workers and building cars in America, for Americans,” said Paul Ritchie, owner of Hagerstown Honda & Kia.

Ritchie is now the chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA). He said international companies have created more than 970,000 jobs in the U.S.

While auto dealers believe Trump’s efforts to cut regulations are a positive, they also claim that a border tariff on Mexico could increase the cost of vehicles by thousands of dollars.

“We feel that this would be inflationary at the least, chaotic to administer and will hamper trade…will hamper business,” Ritchie added.

International auto dealers also have stated that unlike some domestic companies that have moved abroad, they have kept up their investment in America.

“Our job is to make sure our voice is heard, have a seat at the table,” Ritchie said. “We’ve asked for an interview, a chance to talk with President Trump…and that may happen.”

International auto companies have 32 plants in 16 states, Ritchie said, and they plan to spend $37 billion over the next decade to expand them.

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