Hurd calls Trump’s tariffs on allies “ridiculous,” warns about eroding coalitions
Rep. Will Hurd on Thursday called President Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on three trading partners “ridiculous,” and said the move would erode trust between the U.S. and its allies.
The Trump administration imposed trade penalties on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union hours before Hurd, R-Helotes, spoke at a policy forum in San Antonio about diplomacy and the link between Texas businesses and national security. He quickly dug into the tariffs, saying they violated an adage he learned as a CIA operative to “be nice to nice guys and tough to tough guys.”
“When you treat your friends this way, by slapping on tariffs because of an arbitrary number that you actually don't understand, that erodes trust. That erodes coalitions. And the U.S. cannot show global leadership unless we build through coalitions,” Hurd told guests at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition event.
Canada, Mexico and the EU immediately said they would retaliate against the 25 percent duties on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Mexico plans to tax U.S. exports of pork bellies, applies, cranberries, grapes, and some cheeses and steel, according to the Washington Post.
Hurd represents the 23rd Congressional District, which covers more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border and includes a bevy of agricultural jobs that will likely take hits from Mexico’s response. He said rural constituents had already expressed concerns when Trump announced his intent to enforce the tariffs in March.
“We're going to punish the best neighbors a country could ask for, Canada and Mexico? We're going to punish an entity like the EU that has been responsible for peace and prosperity for 70 years?” Hurd said. “That doesn't make sense.”
“I don't know how this is going to end. It's probably going to end poorly,” Hurd said. “Trade wars always do.”Some have speculated that Trump wants to pressure Mexico and Canada into accepting more favorable terms for a revamped version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), though Hurd argued the penalties would “get in the way” of those negotiations.
After explaining his opposition to the tariffs, Hurd turned to China, which experts have largely blamed for the overproduction of steel. He spoke about the threat China poses to the U.S., telling reporters after the forum that Trump is “helping” China and ZTE, a Chinese multinational, “when we are engaging in a trade war with our friends.”
Hurd and other lawmakers have argued that ZTE produces technology that poses cybersecurity threats to the U.S.; the company was hit hard by the Commerce Department’s decision to prohibit U.S. businesses from exporting parts to ZTE in response to a sanctions violation, though Trump tweeted May 13 that he wants to give the company “a way to get back into business, fast.”
During the forum, Hurd focused on China’s intent to surpass the U.S. on the global stage.
“China has made it very clear by 2049 they want to replace the United States of America as the world leader and replace us as the leaders in 10 technological areas, things like artificial intelligence and quantum computing,” Hurd said.
Hurd has argued that quantum computing is so significant that the first country to master it "will become the hegemon." The nascent technology deals with computers that would have capabilities beyond any current algorithms.