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N.D.’s Cramer sees concern in tariffs but supports goals

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Rep. Kevin Cramer said he sees concern in tariffs imposed on imported metals from longtime trade allies, but added he supports the overall goals.

“I’m not a big tariff person,” the Republican said in a meeting Friday with the Tribune’s editorial board. “I think tariffs tend to basically end with the consumer and, not to mention, the economy in general, but at the same time, I realize this president has intercepted the can at the end of the road in a lot of situations.”

The tariffs — 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum — were imposed upon longtime trading allies Canada, Mexico and European Union members Friday. 

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement the tariffs are “unfortunate.”

"Instead of building closer ties with trading partners like Canada, Mexico and the EU in an effort to confront bad actors like China, these tariffs severely limit our ability to build the international support needed to keep China in check and protect American jobs and our rural economies," she said.

She's also said the tariffs would have retaliatory effects on North Dakota, such as for agriculture and machinery: “Rural America should not be treated like collateral damage, and it's insulting to expect hardworking farmers, ranchers and manufacturers in our state to shoulder the negative impacts of this poorly planned policy.”

Cramer is challenging Heitkamp for her Senate seat in this year’s midterm elections. He said the tariffs, while "unsettling for some," represent Trump’s “America first” philosophy.

“The reality of the depth of his commitment was in full bloom," Cramer said of Trump. 

With that, he said the situation is “not without risk" and "it causes me some concern" but "I don't fall for the hysteria thing."

Cramer testified last month at a U.S. Trade Representative hearing on the steel and aluminum tariffs, noting "support for the goals, concern for the process a little bit," he said.

His written testimony also emphasized the role of agriculture and farmers in North Dakota, particularly relating to trade relations with China on soybeans.

“I’d rather help Donald Trump and the United States than help China by being part of the hysteria, which is I think what we do all too quickly,” Cramer told the Tribune.

In response to the U.S. tariffs, Canada, Mexico and the EU said they will make retaliatory and remedial efforts through the World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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