Trade supports the ability of equipment manufacturers to compete globally, said Jim Walker, an AEM Director and vice president of Case IH North America, during a CNN town hall meeting on Tuesday with Republican presidential candidates. 

Walker had the opportunity to ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich what he would do as president to support manufacturing and agriculture on the issue of trade. 

Walker said on CNN: 

I represent a manufacturer, farm equipment manufacturer, here in Wisconsin that directly employs many thousands of people. Indirectly, as you can imagine, with farm equipment that we sell, we indirectly support many more thousand farmers who buy our equipment. On top of that we export about a third of our product that we manufacture here in essence. So in essence, we're a global manufacturing company. 

To spark a trade war right now would not only be detrimental to business, but all of those people directly and indirectly that I said we support. 

My question to you is, as president, how would you engage in diplomacy that won't hurt global manufacturing businesses?

The question followed AEM President Dennis Slater’s op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel defending manufacturing and free trade. 

Trade is a major issue heading into Tuesday’s Republican and Democratic primaries in Wisconsin. AEM has sought to raise the profile of trade and a whole host of other manufacturing issues leading up to the primary. 

“Our goal this election season has been to consistently communicate equipment manufacturers’ perspectives toward these issues to candidates, communities and tens of thousands of grassroots manufacturing voters across the country,” Slater said in a statement following the CNN town hall. “I’m hopeful that Jim’s exchange lent them some clarity in determining their vote this election season.”

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