Q&A: Illinois Chamber of Commerce on tariffs

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Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce  

With the talk of tariffs headlining business news lately, Illinois Business Daily reached out to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce for their thoughts.

Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, provided the answers to our questions below.

Q: How does this affect your membership and your local economy?

A: The state of Illinois is the 5th largest exporter in the U.S. and the largest exporting state in the entire Midwest.  Therefore, matters regarding trade affect our members immensely from how they do business to their influence on the local economy. Illinois exports diverse products in many industries –  Illinois’ agriculture industry being a single largest contributor of exports. Whether our members are in industrial manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, or any type of business, decisions involving trade and investment leave an immense economic impact and must be taken seriously.   


Q: What are the downsides and benefits of tariffs?

A: While tariffs can be beneficial to developing countries that need that revenue to operate, they are usually inappropriate and have great potential to hamper economic advancement. Generally speaking, more tariffs mean less trade which equates to less jobs. We need sound policy with pro-business solutions that increase our state’s competitiveness and job market.


Q: What should lawmakers consider when making these decisions?

A: Lawmakers should recognize the potential consequences tariffs have on various industries that affect the local and global economy. While the intent of legislators may be to benefit a specific industry, they must acknowledge that the tariffs are likely to do more harm to other industries. Specifically, in the case that other countries could retaliate with their own set of tariffs. Exports and foreign direct investment supports over 1 million Illinois jobs and it should not be taken lightly. Lawmakers need to work in tune with businesses and be aware of all economic consequences before considering decisions that would change the way trade operates in Illinois.

Q: What should businesses consider?

A: Every business is affected by trade and tariffs whether they export or not. Businesses should reach out to their Congressmen to be well-versed on the issue and ensure that their international business needs are being represented at a federal level – where the bulk of this action takes place.

Q: Do you have other thoughts on tariffs?

A: Trade is a crucial part of Illinois’ economy. In fact, twelve of Illinois export industries are over a billion dollars in value. Ninety eight percent of U.S. exporters are small and midsize companies, companies which have also created the most new jobs in the past decade. Illinois Congressmen, policymakers and businesses need to collaborate to ensure that the best policy decisions are being made in regards to tariffs for our job creators, business leaders and innovators.

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