Gov. Herbert worries about trade war impact on Utah’s economy as tariffs rise

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is expressing alarm at a potential trade war as a result of rising tariffs.

In a rare tweetstorm of his own, the governor spoke out against President Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on some imports. The governor reiterated his concerns in an interview Friday afternoon with FOX 13, noting that Mexico and Canada are two of Utah’s largest trading partners.

“I think this administration believes tariffs will help our people,” the governor posted. “But I believe protectionism could be catastrophic.”

The governor is not alone in expressing fears about the impact of a trade war on the state’s jobs and the economy. Utah family farmers whom FOX 13 has spoken with worry that agriculture would be significantly impacted. Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food Commissioner LuAnn Adams said in a statement Mexico is Utah’s third largest importer — buying nearly $2 million in pork products, and a half-million in cheese.

“Mexico’s tariff increase on U.S. pork will impact the industry and harm our rural communities who depend on this trade, especially considering the impacts from other new tariffs, and recent tariff increases from China,” she said in a written statement, adding: “For the benefit of Utah agriculture, I hope this trade dispute is resolved quickly.”

The governor has long been a proponent of diversified global trade. He embarks regularly on trade missions to foreign countries to secure business for the state.

Gov. Herbert told FOX 13 that history recalled the last time a major trade war took place — with Utah playing a part. In 1930, Utah Sen. Reed Smoot tried to protect agriculture with tariffs and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act passed, the governor said. Unemployment in the state went from 5 percent to nearly 36 percent and was believed to be a a contributor to the Great Depression.

The governor said he hoped the White House would reduce tariffs and focus on renegotiating trade deals instead.