Mayor Sarno Urges Feds To Lift Tariffs On Chinese Rail Manufacturing Company

Sep 18, 2018

The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts, has reached out to the federal government, asking it to reconsider tariffs affecting a Chinese company.

A company owned by the Chinese government, CRRC, is building 404 rail cars at a plant in Springfield for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

It will also build rail cars for Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and is bidding on a contract for Atlanta.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative, arguing against a new set of tariffs hitting the company.

"It affects the residents and the business community of not only Springfield, [but] western Massachusetts," Sarno told NEPR. "And they're going after a number of big contracts, which means more jobs, more economic development."

An exceprt from the letter, a PDF also available:

It is CRRC's first North American facility and its success is critical to our city and region's economy, bringing back manufacturing and skilled labor to our city. That success is tied not only to the production and jobs created by the CRRC, but the supply chain of smaller local businesses that are feeding the facility and creating good paying jobs for our residents.

A spokesoman for CRRC, Lydia Rivera, said Monday the price tag for MBTA's order could go up if the tariffs remain in place. 

"These are additional costs to all of us -- the riders, the agencies and ultimately the taxpayers who fund the transit agencies," Rivera said.

A spokeswoman for the MBTA, Lisa Battiston, did not directly answer when asked several times by email if CRRC had the option of passing the cost of tariffs on to the transit agency. 

"The procurement of the new Orange and Red Line remains on schedule, and the MBTA continues to monitor the potential impacts on tariffs on the ongoing production of 404 new vehicles," Battiston said.

Rivera said CRRC plans to apply for a waiver from the tariffs. 

The company could also be impacted by a bill currently in Congress. That bill would temporarily ban companies owned or subsidized by the Chinese government from bidding on rail car projects that receive federal funding.