Our sixth-generation, family-owned company has been headquartered in Missouri for more than a century. We supply steel for bridges, buildings and pipelines. Our work has given us a close-up view of the challenges facing U.S. manufacturers due to subsidized imports. Lately, the only good news has been some wins from the president’s tariffs and several trade enforcement cases.
What’s hurting our industry most is that the U.S. dollar keeps rising in value — to a point where it’s now uncompetitive in global markets. And that makes imports cheaper and U.S. exports more expensive.
Missouri’s senator, Josh Hawley, recently joined with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to introduce legislation intended to make the U.S. dollar more competitive. That’s something our company supports.
The dollar’s value is currently being pushed upward by a flood of foreign capital pouring into America’s financial markets. Wall Street likes this investment since it drives the sale of stocks, bonds, and other assets. But it’s not helping America’s heartland. And it’s making Missouri’s factory goods and farm products artificially overpriced in international markets.
U.S. manufacturers have long been harmed when countries like China intentionally weaken their currencies to push the dollar up and make their own goods cheaper. This kind of currency manipulation has helped drive America’s trade deficit to a record $875 billion last year. That has cost our nation millions of manufacturing jobs over the past 20 years.
More recently, overseas hedge funds and banks are pouring capital into U.S. financial markets. That drives up the dollar and makes U.S. exports more costly. The Federal Reserve reports the dollar has climbed 25 percent in the past five years alone.
Sen. Hawley’s legislation would require the Fed to achieve balanced trade by managing the dollar’s value. Instead of placing tariffs on imports, the bill would impose a fee on incoming foreign capital. Foreign investment would be slowed, making the dollar more competitive.
Hawley’s bill could achieve a competitive dollar. And that would jump start job creation, raise farm prices and rebuild domestic manufacturing — something we all support.