Kentucky Auto Dealer On Trump's China Tariffs: I'm Scared Right Now


Steve Gates, the owner of several auto dealerships in Kentucky, told CNN's Gabriel Marquez that he is worried the latest round of tariffs on imported Chinese goods could put him out of business.

STEVE GATES, KENTUCKY AUTO DEALER: Maybe I could sell you a car.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Steve Gates sells cars, nine dealerships, three states nearly 700 employees. His family closing deals for three generations.

GATES: I would love to grow -- I would love to add rooftops and people. I'm too scared right now.

MARQUEZ: Scared because the President's trade fight with China and the world taking a bite out of the automotive industry slowing sales, creeping growth, creating uncertainty.

GATES: It just seems so unfair. I mean, I work so hard every day and for politicians to dictate to me what my future is, it just seems -- it just seems wrong.

MARQUEZ: Nationwide, a firm that tracks job losses found that this year nearly 20,000 jobs in the automotive sector gone. With the threat of an additional 25 percent tariff on finished products hanging out there, many more jobs on the line.

The U.S. auto industry hit by tariffs and price increases for over a year now. First due to steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018, then tariffs on Chinese made car parts in July and again in September last year. And last week, even higher tariffs imposed again on Chinese auto parts among other materials. Here in Kentucky, it's not just car production and sales feeling the tariff pinch.

ERIC GREGORY, PRESIDENT, KENTUCKY DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION: Nobody wins in a trade war. There's only consequences and casualties, and right now we're collateral damage.

MARQUEZ: Since 1999, Kentucky has seen exponential growth in global exports of its most famous beverage, bourbon, not anymore. The E.U. and countries like China fighting back aiming their own tariffs directly at the home state of Trump loyalists and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

GREGORY: We just got numbers today for the first quarter of this year and they're down ten percent American whiskey, and 20 percent to the E.U. just in the first quarter.

MARQUEZ: 20 percent, that hurts.

GREGORY: That hurts.

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