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Coalition urges de-escalation of tariff war with China

Groups such as Farmers for Free Trade and Americans for Farmers and Families say that U.S. tariffs to punish China and force it to reform its trade practices are missing the mark and drawing harmful retaliation.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on September 10, 2018 11:21AM

Last changed on September 10, 2018 5:18PM

Port of Seattle
A container ship departs the Port of Seattle. A coalition of U.S. businesses, including agricultural groups, has sent a letter to the Trump administration urging it to stop raising tariffs on Chinese imports. They fear China will continue to raise its tariffs on U.S. crops and goods.

Port of Seattle A container ship departs the Port of Seattle. A coalition of U.S. businesses, including agricultural groups, has sent a letter to the Trump administration urging it to stop raising tariffs on Chinese imports. They fear China will continue to raise its tariffs on U.S. crops and goods.


Led by the National Retail Federation, more than 150 organizations are urging the Trump administration to put the brakes on proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods.

“Continuing the tit-for-tat escalation with China only serves to expand the harm to more U.S. economic interest including farmers, families, businesses and workers,” the coalition said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The multi-industry coalition, which includes Farmers for Free Trade and Americans for Farmers and Families, said it agrees that solutions are needed for longstanding issues with China.

But tariffs are counterproductive and so far have only produced increased costs for U.S. businesses, farmers, importers, exporters and consumers, they said.

The U.S. has already imposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, drawing retaliatory tariffs, and the Chinese government has promised further retaliation if additional U.S. tariffs are imposed.

Although the administration continues to argue that it will escalate tariff actions until China alters its behavior, there has been no indication of that nation changing course, the groups said.

“Applying these high levels of tariffs on Chinese products will continue to miss the mark. And once the tariffs go into effect, taking them down may not happen anytime soon, as both sides harden their position,” they said.

Undermining the competitiveness of U.S. companies through tariffs will not result in the elimination of China’s acts, policies and practices but will instead strengthen China’s competitive position globally, they said.

Tariffs are quickly closing world markets to U.S. farmers and ranchers and giving an advantage to foreign competitors, Brian Kuehl, executive directors of Farmers for Free Trade, said in a statement.

“If the administration wants to stand up for the agriculture industry, it should end the trade war and work to forge new opportunities to sell American commodities in overseas markets,” he said.

Should the $200 billion list of products be subject to a 10 or 25 percent tariff, U.S. manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and others will soon face tariffs on all their imports from and exports to China, the coalition said.

On the import side, imposing a 25 percent tariff on a total of $250 billion of Chinese goods would result in $62.5 billion in tariff costs for U.S. businesses and consumers each year. By contrast, the U.S. government collected only $33 billion in total tariffs on all global imports in 2017, the coalition said.

On the export side, each retaliatory action by China further closes the world’s second-largest economy to the U.S., they said.

The groups also expressed concern over the administration’s suggestion that the U.S. might impose tariffs on all Chinese imports.

The groups are requesting that every effort be undertaken to initiate meaningful negotiations expeditiously.

“We recommend no further tariff actions be taken until those negotiations have a chance to produce significant and verifiable results,” they said.



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