CEOs’ confidence slips over Trump tariffs

Business leaders are growing more worried about President Trump’s trade policies as another $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods took effect on Monday.

The Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook declined 1.8 points in the July to September quarter from 111.1 over the summer.

The nation’s top executives expressed concerns about the tariffs despite their optimism about the economy and the positive effects of the Republican tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks.

{mosads}Overall, economic growth hit 4.2 percent in the second quarter. But the drop in the CEOs’ forecast reflects fears tariffs could derail businesses’ plans to hire and make capital investments over the next six months. It also reflects growing frustration among executives who have urged the White House to find other ways to address trade issues with foreign nations.

“This survey shows how tax reform and regulatory relief continue to bring strength to the economy,” said Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable president and CEO. “Yet, current trade policies and uncertainty about future trade policies are having negative effects, especially on capital investment. 

“Decreases in capital investment not only impact the operations of Business Roundtable companies, less spending on equipment and facilities also squeezes small- and medium-sized suppliers and the millions of Americans they employ,” he added. 

In the most recent survey, nearly two-thirds of responding CEOs said that recently enacted tariffs — along with other changes to trade policy and uncertainty about future trade actions — will have a moderate or significant negative effect on their companies’ capital investment decisions over the next six months.

Plans for capital investment fell 4.4 points to 103.2 in the latest survey.

CEO plans for hiring declined 2.9 points to 92.6, while expectations for sales increased to 132.3, up 2 points from the previous quarter.

“Business Roundtable urges the administration to expand trade and investment — not introduce new barriers and uncertainties — as it negotiates with China and works to deliver a modern, trilateral NAFTA for the American people,” Bolten said. 

In their fourth estimate this year, CEOs project 2.8 percent economic growth for the year, up slightly from their 2.7 percent estimate in the second quarter.

“It’s disappointing that, despite the voices of those impacted, the administration continues to advance harmful tariff policies that threaten to weaken the U.S. economy,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation in regards to the latest batch of tariffs. 

“With these latest tariffs, many hardworking Americans will soon wonder why their shopping bills are higher and their budgets feel stretched,” Shay said. 

Tags Donald Trump

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