Gov. Greg Abbott urged President Donald Trump in a letter Thursday to reconsider his tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, arguing the imported metals are vital to the growth of Texas' economy.
In the letter, Abbott praised his fellow Republican for guiding the country to a time of increased job creation and thriving agriculture, technology and energy sectors by "modernizing our nation's trade policies" to work in the United States' favor. But Abbott also emphasized the necessity of foreign steel and aluminum to the continued growth of American oil and gas, which have an enormous footprint in Texas.
"Our country's steel and aluminum workers are a vital part of the national workforce, and creating jobs in that industry must be a top priority," said the letter. "But attempting to protect these jobs through the new tariffs could jeopardize the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Texans and other Americans employed in the oil and gas industry."
Trump announced the steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this year, targeting some of the United States' closest allies, such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The tariffs are designed to boost the domestic steel and aluminum industries, but critics have expressed worry about trade wars and other ripple effects.
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The president has also repeatedly argued against free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he says unfairly benefits the United States' partners at its expense.
Abbott, a vocal supporter of Trump, has also spoken in the past about NAFTA's necessity in advancing the economy of Texas. The state's trade with Mexico surpassed $187 billion in 2017. Abbott wrote a letter on April 4 to a top administration official arguing that elements of NAFTA were vital to Texas.
The state accounted for more than $8.3 billion in steel and aluminum imports in 2017, more than twice any other state, according to the letter. Abbott said increasing the costs of imported steel and aluminum would hinder the U.S. oil and gas industry from surpassing its competitors and that Texas oil and gas accounts for more than twice as many jobs as the national steel and aluminum industry.
Protecting steel and aluminum jobs has been a large talking point for Trump since he first announced his candidacy.
"Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world," Trump tweeted in March. "We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!"
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