Business groups to Trump: Tariff delay isn't enough

Business groups to Trump: Tariff delay isn't enough
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Business groups on Tuesday said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE's decision to postpone and exempt some consumer goods scheduled for tariffs did not go far enough, and urged him to take additional steps to wind down the trade war with China.

The White House trade office announced Tuesday morning that the administration would delay tariffs on certain consumer goods from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15, while also removing items from the list targeting Chinese products.

"We are pleased the administration is delaying some tariffs ahead of the holiday season and acknowledging the impact on American consumers," said David French, head of government relations for the National Retail Federation. "Still, uncertainty for U.S. businesses continues, and tariffs taking effect September 1 will result in higher costs for American families and slow the U.S. economy."

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Trump said earlier this month that starting Sept. 1 he would impose a 10 percent tariff on virtually all imports from China that he had not already hit with import taxes. The list of $300 billion worth of imports included consumer goods for the first time.

Markets tanked from record highs in July over the news, and Wall Street economists began warning that a recession was becoming more likely amid increased trade tensions.

Trump's decision to exempt certain consumer products from the tariffs and delay others until mid-December will let U.S. companies breathe a brief sigh of relief, but business groups said it was only a small step.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest business lobby, said the news was "welcome," but urged a comprehensive solution to roll back a separate 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

“Now, it’s more important than ever that the two sides return to the negotiating table and recommit to achieving progress towards a comprehensive, enforceable agreement,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber's chief policy officer.

Other groups said much damage has already been done with the trade war between the world's two largest economies, which began in July 2018.

“Americans are at less risk of economic harm today than they were yesterday, but not as well off as if the tariffs had never been threatened," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that promotes free trade.

"It’s time to give Americans a real Christmas present. End the trade war,” he added, referencing the slew of consumer goods such as cellphones, video game consoles and laptops that will exempt from tariffs heading into the holiday shopping season.

Trump said Tuesday that Chinese officials had a phone call with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLobbying world The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Johns Hopkins's Jennifer Nuzzo says America needs public health crisis insurance to pay for COVID-19 victims; Protests, pandemic continue to ravage America The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE, and that a follow-up call is expected in two weeks.

Trade talks are slated to resume in September.

Some experts say China may be digging in for a more protracted trade battle, calculating it can outlast Trump's presidency. While the yearlong dispute has taken a bite out of China's economy, the trade war's impacts on the U.S. economy could have repercussions come November 2020.

"Today’s announcement doesn’t address the vast majority of tariffs that are driving uncertainty, putting farmers out of business and causing small businesses to slow hiring," the group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said in a statement.

"Instead of picking temporary winners and losers and holding the U.S. economy hostage, it is time to reach an agreement that finally puts an end to the trade war,” the group added.

Trump also faced skepticism from Democrats in Tuesday's retreat.

"Postponing tariffs on video game consoles and pet toys is giving Trump the stock market bump he wants, but he’s still going ahead with tariffs on books, school supplies and clothes that will hit working Americans the hardest," said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUSTR launches investigations into countries' digital taxes House Republican offers bill to create 'return to work bonus' On The Money: Senate Dems pump brakes on new stimulus checks | Trump officials sued over tax refunds | Fed to soon open small-business lending program MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade.

"As I have said many times, I fully support going after China’s cheating on trade. But Trump’s incoherent posturing is hitting American pocketbooks without changing China’s behavior,” he added.