Companies line up to weigh in on proposed $300B China tariffs during hearings

Companies line up to weigh in on proposed $300B China tariffs during hearings
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The United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Monday opened seven days of hearings on 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 proposed tariffs on $300 billion-worth of Chinese imports.

A slew of companies ranging from Kenneth Cole fashion to Plumbing Manufacturers International to the streaming device Roku were scheduled to present their positions on the tariffs, which along with existing ones, would place a duty on nearly every Chinese import to the United States.

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The companies were expected to largely oppose the tariffs. The lion’s share of 1,600 written comments about the plan were opposed to new tariffs, according The Washington Post.

Many companies depend on Chinese imports for at least part of their supply chain, and the additional tariffs would put them in a position to either swallow lower revenues, increase prices to their buyers, or look for alternative means of supply, which can be an expensive and lengthy process.

The Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby, has spoken out strongly against tariffs.

"The administration did not heed the numerous warnings from American consumers and businesses about rising costs and lost jobs on Main Street, in factories, and on farms and ranches across the country," Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said when Trump announced the last round of tariffs.

Groups that compete with Chinese products, however, were expected to voice support for new tariffs.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), for example, not only applauded the effort, but complained that some categories had been left off the list of proposed tariffs.

“There is little doubt that China’s extreme position in the global textile and apparel marketplace has been advanced by an elaborate system of illegal practices, that include state sponsored subsidies, unethical labor and environmental practices and theft of intellectual property,” said Daniel Nation, Director of Government Relations for Parkdale Mills, which is a member of the NCTO.

He said that the exclusion of finished textile and apparel products from the tariff list "greatly diminished" the effectiveness of the tariffs.

Trump argues that tariffs will help pressure China to agree to a favorable trade deal with the United States.

"Everyone’s trying to get our money, China" he told CNBC last week. "And the China deal’s going to work out. You know why? Because of tariffs," he continued.

The strategy may not pay off. China has taken a harder line in negotiations, which alongside new tariffs led to an impasse at talks. Trump had set a deadline for meeting with Chinese President President Xi Jinping at the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Japan, but backed off his demand shortly thereafter.

On Sunday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Group sues Trump administration for info related to 'attempts to politicize NOAA' NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet MORE further played down expectations, saying that
"the most that will come out of the G-20 might be an agreement to actively resume talks.”

Ross also argued that China paid for the tariffs, despite ample evidence that the direct costs largely fall on U.S. consumers.

A survey of CEOs from the Business Roundtable last week found trade to be a top concern for businesses.

"Uncertainty over trade policy is making it more difficult for companies to invest and operate confidently," Business Roundtable President Joshua Bolten said at the time.