107 business groups urge Congress to protect consumers from tariff battle with China

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More than 100 business groups on Thursday sent a letter to Congress calling on lawmakers to ensure that U.S. consumers don’t pay the price for a crackdown on China’s unfair trading practices.

Led by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), 107 associations representing retailers, farmers, manufacturers and technology groups said the United States will suffer job losses and economic harm if President Trump decides to impose billions in tariffs on China.


“While the administration has signaled that the proposed tariffs are intended to inflict maximum pain on China and minimal pain on the U.S. consumer, unfortunately that is not the case,” the groups wrote to the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee ahead of the panel’s hearing on trade set for Thursday morning.

The groups say that many of the products on the Trump administration’s proposed U.S. tariff list are not only consumer goods but components, such as machinery, parts and chemicals, that U.S. manufacturers need to make American products.

“Higher costs for manufacturing will result in less production here in the U.S.,” they wrote. “If imposed, these tariffs will result in higher prices for American consumers and fewer jobs for American workers.”

Trump has proposed tariffs worth $50 billion on an expansive list of Chinese products over years of alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property and stolen technology. 

China and the United States have traded tariff threats and promises of retaliation over the past few weeks.

“It is rare that over 100 business associations would come together to work on any issue,” said ITI CEO and President Dean Garfield.

“That proves how harmful and destabilizing tariffs would be to the U.S. workers, businesses and economy,” Garfield said. “From farming to [financial technology], we all urge Congress to work with the administration to come up with solutions that will alter China’s deceptive trade practices while not making the U.S. worker a pawn. There is too much is at stake to get this wrong.”

ITI sent a separate letter earlier this week to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling on the Trump administration to form and lead an international coalition that can apply pressure on China to change its harmful trade practices while negotiating a better trading relationship.

Ahead of the hearing, the groups say Congress “must play a strong role in quickly mitigating this situation.”

“We continue to urge Congress to step in and exert its authority on trade and ensure American families don’t pay the price for China’s violations,” said David French, NRF’s senior vice president for government relations.

“Retailers, manufacturers, farmers and businesses are urging Congress to work with the administration and put in place an effective strategy to address China’s unfair trade practices without raising consumer prices and destroying jobs here in the United States,” French said.

The business groups say Congress must work with the Trump administration on trade.

“We strongly encourage Congress to work together and with the administration to develop and execute a strategic policy to effectively address the longstanding problems in China,” they wrote.

“This must include clearly defined objectives, deadlines and immediate negotiations with China, preferably in coordination with like-minded economies,” they said. “The fundamental challenges with China are real and can best be addressed through aligned efforts.”

While they agree that China’s lax intellectual property protections harm the United States, they are concerned that the proposed tariff list and escalating trade threats made by the administration “will not effectively advance our shared goal of changing these harmful Chinese practices.”

The groups argue that the combination of the tariffs, the likelihood of investment restrictions, China’s vow to retaliate and the threat of a trade war has created “unpredictability across the business and farm community here in the United States, [depressed] commodity prices, and have already harmed U.S. companies, farmers, consumers and markets.”

“With no clear strategy to aid those businesses, farms and workers impacted by the new tariffs, their livelihoods are at risk,” they wrote.

They also argue that the administration’s approach does not adequately account for the vital role of the global supply chain.

“These complex supply chains can take years to establish, and in some instances rely on suppliers who bring unique capabilities that cannot be replaced,” they wrote.

Applying tariffs on imports from China will certainly disrupt those supply chains and probably drive inflation up in the United States, they said.

“The impact of a trade war and tariffs would be felt by businesses, workers, farmers and consumers throughout the U.S. and across industry sectors,” they wrote. “This would hurt the economy as a whole, as well as jobs and consumers in every state. Everyone loses in a trade war.”

Tags China China–United States relations Donald Trump International trade Steven Mnuchin Tariff Trump tariffs

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