Business groups urge Trump to back away from more tariffs

Business groups urge Trump to back away from more tariffs
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Business groups are expressing strong opposition to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE's plans to hit China with more tariffs and are calling for a comprehensive strategy to address Beijing's trade practices.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and 65 organizations representing U.S. retailers, manufacturers, farmers and technology companies joined together to tell U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE that tariffs won't work to open China's market to more U.S. imports.

“Imposing tariffs on Chinese imports will not have the effect that the administration desires,” the coalition wrote in submitted comments to Lighthizer. 

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“If the goal is to open markets for U.S. goods and services abroad, the use of tariffs goes against that goal … We are no longer in a ‘trade dispute,’ " they groups said.

Starting on Tuesday, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is holding two days of public hearings on Trump's plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion in Chinese goods. 

Trump has proposed tariffs of $50 billion on Chinese imports under Section 301, arguing that China steals U.S. intellectual property and technology.

So far, $34 billion worth of tariffs have gone into place — equally matched by China — with a second batch of $16 billion undergoing review.

"The tit-for-tat tariffs have now landed us in a trade war that is starting to do real harm to U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and consumers," the groups wrote.

"Tariffs hurt the economy as a whole as well as jobs and consumers in every state.”

The president also has announced another $200 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods that could hit as early as this fall. 

USTR is asking U.S. businesses what products should be included or excluded from the $16 billion tariff list and where the duty level should be set.

The groups urged the Trump administration to propose a detailed strategy to address China's long-standing trade conflicts with businesses and Congress to develop a joint approach.

The business groups say they are prepared to work on a "clear and concise strategy" that will bring about change in China’s unfair trade practices.

"The end goal should be a long-term solution that meaningfully addresses the commercial issues in China while promoting the competitiveness of U.S. farmers, manufacturers, workers, consumers, and businesses," the groups wrote.

"Implementation of tariffs only saddles the United States with new costs, lost sales and lost jobs.”

In addition to the coalition letter, NRF submitted its own comments to USTR requesting that all consumer products be removed from the list of proposed tariffs.

"Imposing additional tariffs on more products will not motivate China to change its practices or bring them to the negotiating table,” said David French, the NRF's senior vice president for government relations.

"In addition, it should be noted that for many products made in China that would be affected by tariffs, it will likely be Chinese factory owners who will move to other locations in southeast Asia to get around the tariffs, so they will have no appreciable impact on the overall U.S. trade deficit or on Chinese interests.”

Other groups also had submitted comments ahead of the hearings, including the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which has expressed repeated opposition to the administration's slew of tariffs. 

Josh Kallmer, executive vice president of policy at ITI, will urge the administration on Tuesday to not impose the next round of tariffs.

ITI continues to urge the White House to pursue negotiations with the Chinese on market access commitments with timelines for implementation. The technology group, which represents Amazon, MasterCard and Samsung, said tariffs will fail to evoke the changes the U.S. wants.