Gov. Jay Inslee: Businesses in Washington state are putting investment decisions 'on hold' due to 'anxiety' over Trump tariffs

  • Washington state is seeing the impact of President Donald Trump's tariffs, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee says.
  • He says businesses have been putting investment decisions "on hold" until the nation's trade conflicts are resolved.
  • Inslee claims his state could suffer jobs losses.

Washington state is seeing the impact of President Donald Trump's tariffs, with businesses putting investment decisions "on hold" until the nation's trade conflicts are resolved, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee told CNBC on Thursday.

"Our apple producers have been hit with responsive tariffs," Inslee said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "Our aluminum boat builders have issues about aluminum prices. Our cherries, which are just going crazy in China, [are] going to be hit as well."

The White House is attacking what it sees as unfair trade practices on a number of fronts, including tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that have been met with retaliatory measures from the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China.

The U.S. and China both instituted tariffs on $34 billion of the other country's goods on Friday. American farmers are among the hardest hit by China’s 25 percent retaliatory duties on everything from meats and dairy to fruits and vegetables to rice and soybeans.

Inslee, whose state ranked No. 2 in CNBC's 2018 America's Top States for Business study, said the state could suffer jobs losses as a result of the U.S. trade conflicts and local businesses in Washington are growing "concerned."

"About 5 percent of our export market of jobs are associated with this," Inslee said. "We have about $1.8 billion of exports that are already going to be affected adversely by these. These are big numbers, big employment numbers."

Inslee criticized Trump's approach to trade with China, saying he expects that the administration "just doesn't have a plan."

"They are about as successful in this as they have been in reuniting children with their parents," Inslee said, referring to families who were detained and separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC earlier this week that the U.S. would consider backing off on the China trade war once the world's second-largest economy "begins acting like a developed nation."

"[If] they lower their tariff barriers on us, they open up their markets to us; and if they do that, then I think there's a positive outcome that we can see down the road," Hassett said Monday.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Inslee's comments.

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