Trump tariffs prompt rising fear, anger from GOP, business

Business groups and congressional Republicans expressed increasing frustration on Wednesday with President Trump’s escalating trade fight with China. 

They say it’s time for the U.S. and China to get back to the negotiating table and hammer out a deal that would stop the steady stream of tit-for-tat steep tariffs. 

{mosads}The Trump administration’s latest salvo would apply a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which is in response to Beijing’s retaliation for a previous round of U.S. duties.  

A final decision on the tariffs will be made sometime after Aug. 30.

The latest list of targeted Chinese imports, which was released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday night, comes on the heels of the U.S. move to levy a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion in Chinese imports. 

China immediately struck back with retaliatory tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. goods.

The U.S. and China each have said they will impose tariffs on another $16 billion of each other’s goods in the coming months, adding up to $50 billion total by each country. 

The fight drew ire from technology, manufacturing, agriculture and retailing groups, which argue that Trump’s tariffs will hurt U.S. consumers and businesses. 

“The last thing America’s manufacturing workers need is an escalating trade war,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

“America has China’s attention, so instead of more tariffs, the U.S. and China should immediately begin working toward a fair, bilateral, enforceable, rules-based trade agreement to end China’s market-distorting activities,” Timmons said. “We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

The Trump administration said the $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese products is necessary because of Beijing’s failure to change what they consider a long history of unfair trade practices.

But critics such as Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council that represents companies such as Apple and Google, argue they don’t see a real strategy.

He faulted the administration for imposing more tariffs “without a clear objective or end in sight, threatening American jobs, stifling economic investment and increasing the prices of everyday goods.”

David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, said another $200 billion in tariffs “doubles down on a reckless strategy that will boomerang back to harm U.S. families and workers.”

“The administration has been pursuing tariffs now for months and we still don’t know what the endgame is,” he said.

To bolster its case for tariffs, the USTR produced a 200-page report highlighting how it said China’s forced transfer and theft of intellectual property and technology has damaged the U.S. economy.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the Trump administration has urged China to stop its unfair practices and open its market to U.S. exports. 

“We have been very clear and detailed regarding the specific changes China should undertake,” he said. “Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior — behavior that puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk.”

China, which has filed a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for consultations over the tariffs, called the latest tariff list “totally unacceptable.”

“China is shocked by the U.S. move and the Chinese government, as always, will have to react to defend the core interests of our nation and people,” the Commerce Ministry said.

The Senate on Wednesday took a symbolic vote against Trump’s tariffs.

The upper chamber voted 88-11 to add language to a spending bill that would give Congress more oversight on tariffs imposed for national security reasons. 

The vote doesn’t force action but reflects the rising level of anxiety on Capitol Hill over Trump’s trade actions. 

Trump has implemented 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, angering allies including Canada, Mexico and the European Union that argue they don’t pose security threats to the United States.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Trump’s tariffs on China have been “very detrimental” to his home state and that he is nervous about what will happen to exports of corn and soybeans. 

The American Soybean Association (ASA) called on the Trump administration to find a non-tariff solution to address its concerns with China, a huge buyer of U.S. soybeans.

“While trade tensions with U.S. soy’s largest customer continue to escalate, soy growers from across 30 states are in Washington, talking with the members of the administration and Congress, urging them to rescind these tariffs and bring a sense of stability and certainty back to farmers who depend on trade,” said ASA President and Iowa soybean farmer John Heisdorffer.

“Our message to the administration and lawmakers remains the same: these tariffs needlessly hurt soy growers and rural communities,” Heisdorffer said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that although he has supported the administration’s efforts to combat China’s unfair trade practices he said the latest decision “appears reckless and is not a targeted approach.”

“We cannot turn a blind eye to China’s mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy,” he said in a statement.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping need to meet and hash out an agreement.

“Despite the serious economic consequences of ever-increasing tariffs, today there are no serious trade discussions occurring between the U.S. and China, no plans for trade negotiations anytime soon, and seemingly little action toward a solution,” Brady said. 

“I strongly urge President Trump and President Xi to meet soon face-to-face to craft a solution to establish fair and lasting trade between our two countries,” he said. 

Business groups say that short of a solution millions of jobs are at risk. 

“Tariffs are taxes on consumers and businesses,” said Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater. “We need policies that encourage manufacturing in the United States. Not the opposite.”

Tags China Donald Trump Kevin Brady manufacturers Orrin Hatch retailers Robert Lighthizer Tariffs Trade

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