March 18, 2018 / 11:50 PM / 5 months ago

45 U.S. trade groups urge Trump to avoid tariffs against China

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - Forty-five U.S. trade associations representing some of the largest companies in the country are urging President Donald Trump not to impose tariffs on China, warning it would be “particularly harmful” to the U.S. economy and consumers.

The organizations said in a letter sent to Trump on Sunday that potential tariffs on China would raise prices on consumer goods, kill jobs and drive down financial markets.

The letter marks the latest in a growing rift between Trump and the business community on trade policies, as the president has begun to take more aggressive steps he says are needed to protect domestic industry.

“We urge the administration not to impose tariffs and to work with the business community to find an effective, but measured, solution to China’s protectionist trade policies and practices that protects American jobs and competitiveness,” the groups wrote.

“Tariffs would be particularly harmful,” they said.

The groups called on Trump to work with trade allies to push for changes to China’s policies. The business groups said while they had serious concerns about China’s approach to trade, unilateral tariffs by the United States would only separate the country from allies, and encourage them to replace the U.S. business presence in China when Beijing retaliates.

Trade associations publicly pushing back include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the Information Technology Industry Council.

The Trump administration is said to be preparing tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecoms and consumer products in an attempt to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property and investment practices.

The Republican president recently announced plans to impose tariffs on certain steel and aluminum imports, despite opposition from some business sectors.

The groups also called on Trump to allow industry experts to comment on the economic impact of any changes in trade policy before the measures take effect.

“We urge the administration to take measured, commercially meaningful actions consistent with international obligations that benefit U.S. exporters, importers, and investors, rather than penalize the American consumer and jeopardize recent gains in American competitiveness,” they said. (Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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