In Louisiana, Trump’s Trade War Spooks America’s Biggest Port
The Mississippi River flows through the most vulnerable state. We follow its banks to the Gulf for a tour of economic trepidation.
To understand what a trade war means for America, go to the Mississippi. Follow the mud-brown river past Louisiana’s chemical plants, oil refineries, granaries, ports, and the rail networks and highways that spring from its fingers.
Over centuries, trade on the winding waterway hailed as the great spine of the U.S. built hundreds of communities. Most U.S. grain, nearly a quarter of its coal, and much of its petrochemicals pass through here. But the river carries not only goods—it also carries consequences.
Although Donald Trump garnered more votes from Louisianans in 2016 than any other presidential candidate in history, his promise to put America first targets the heart of its commerce. The U.S. imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union among others; Trump has threatened to add charges on up to $450 billion in Chinese goods, with the first round targeting $34 billion commencing July 6; and the erstwhile partners are retaliating. Louisiana’s reliance on trade makes it a unique microcosm of how the tariff battle will affect America.
“Everything came from the Mississippi. It was the entryway to the heartland of the United States—that’s been the case since the city’s founding,” said Marc Morial, a former New Orleans mayor whose father was the city’s first black mayor; he grew up hearing stories of life on the sea from his uncle, who worked on a freighter. “All of the elements of the ecosystem are affected when you have a slowdown in trade. And that nerve system is what people don’t always necessarily see.”
A trade war would weigh on Louisiana, slowing total economic output by a minimum of 7 percent over five years, the most of any state, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. One in six jobs in the state of 4.7 million is tied to international commerce and would be at risk, threatening an unemployment rate the U.S. Labor Department pegs near an all-time low.
Follow the river downstream to see the fears and consequences lapping at the feet of Americans.
Bloomberg news: In Louisiana, Trump’s Trade War Spooks America’s