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Local businesses emphasize need for global trade as tariffs move forward

Posted at 4:42 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 17:42:19-04

Experts at a conference Thursday on international trade at Bellevue University underscored Nebraska's -- and the Midwest's -- need for global partnerships.

The conference happened to fall on a day when the White House took steps to enforce tariffs against China.

President Donald Trump's announcement that he's moving to impose steel tariffs of up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports rattled financial markets and touched off a fresh economic debate.

Stocks plunged, sending the Dow Jones industrials down more than 700 points, as investors feared that trade tensions will spike between the U.S. and China.

Beijing has said it will defend itself.

Michael Salerno of First National Bank of Omaha, sat on a panel at Thursday's conference. He says farmers and the agriculture industry, a large part of Midwest region's overall economy, benefit from trade across borders.

"Anytime we have tariffs and what would happen from a retaliation and if they would return any of that on our products is a concern," Leach said, adding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is a main priority.

Husch Blackwell LLP attorney Grant Leach also spoke at the conference in Bellevue. He and many others say its too soon to know what will happen.

"When we talk about trade treaties, disruptions some of this rhetoric, especially revolving around the election cycle, those are very short term concerns," Leach said. "Those will come and go."