Sen. Lesser Urges Trade Representative to Exempt CRRC from Trump Tariffs

“We are gaining, not losing, in our partnership with CRRC,” Sen. Lesser writes in letter

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer Wednesday urging that he exempt the railcar manufacturer China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), which employs 120 at its Springfield plant, from punishing tariffs levied by the Trump administration.

In July, tariffs announced by the Trump administration on $16 billion of Chinese imports went into effect. Those tariffs on various parts and supplies used by CRRC could add 25 percent to its manufacturing costs.

CRRC is filing an application requesting the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative exempt the company from the tariffs.

“These tariffs are an unfair penalty on a company that is creating jobs in my Senate district, and I hope your office will take the necessary actions to exempt CRRC from these punishing tariffs,” Sen. Lesser’s letter reads, in part.

Sen. Lesser notes in his letter that CRRC employs 120 workers, with plans to hire 20 more by the end of the year, and that each worker earns an average salary of $65,000.

“These are good, high-paying manufacturing jobs,” Sen. Lesser writes.

The tariffs have been defended as a way to address the U.S. trade deficit with China. But CRRC, a Chinese-owned company, won the contract to build U.S. trains partly because there are no U.S. companies that manufacture railcars. CRRC also outbid its competitors for the contract to build railcars for Boston’s T, offering the state the most competitive price for the job.

“I understand that the administration is hoping to make American workers more competitive, but there is no U.S. company competing here because not a single U.S. company is making trains. It’s an entirely foreign market. These tariffs are an extra cost passed directly onto the taxpayer, who’s funding the construction of these railcars for the MBTA,” said Sen. Lesser.

“In other words, these tariffs are essentially a tax on commuters who live in some of our country’s largest metropolitan areas and use these transit systems in their daily lives,” he wrote in his letter, referencing the different subway systems CRRC has contracts to supply.

In addition to the MBTA, CRRC also has contracts to build subway cars for Chicago’s “L” system, Los Angeles’ Metro and Philadelphia’s SEPTA.

Read Sen. Lesser’s full letter here.