US retail giants ask Trump to reconsider China tariffs

BBC News:  

A group of US retail giants including Walmart, Target and Costco has asked US President Donald Trump to reconsider imposing tariffs against China, saying they could hurt American families.

The US is preparing to slap annual tariffs worth up to $60bn (£42.7bn) on Chinese imports, according to reports.

The potential tariffs would be against Chinese consumer products, telecommunications and technology.

Some tariff measures could be unveiled as soon as Friday, reports have said.

The group of US retailers wrote to Mr Trump on Monday urging him to carefully consider the impact the tariffs would have on consumer prices and American families.

The letter was organised by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and is signed by 25 retail giants.

“This is not American industries crying wolf,” Sandy Kennedy, president of RILA said in a statement.

“Higher tariffs will mean higher costs to businesses and in turn higher prices for American families,” she said.

“We must do right by American families, and make sure they are not the ones who will pay for China’s harmful technology practices.”

What is behind the tariffs?

Mr Trump argues the massive US trade deficit with China is due, in part, to Chinese firms copying US products and ideas, and either selling them back to the US at a lower price or squeezing US imports out of the Chinese market.

Also, some US firms are upset about rules that require local partnerships or disclosure of intellectual property to enter the Chinese market, which they say facilitates transfer of their ideas.

So, in August, Mr Trump asked his country’s top trade official to review China’s practices regarding intellectual property.

Any tariffs by the US would be in retaliation to what it sees as unfair Chinese practices and is allowed under section 301 of the country’s trade act.

The tariffs could affect a list of as many as 100 products including shoes and footwear, but would be chiefly be targeted at IT, consumer electronics and other products that benefit from US intellectual property, according to Reuters.

What are US retailers upset about?

US retailers group said they support holding trading partners accountable, but that tariffs against China would see American households pay higher prices for goods.

They also said tariffs would “exacerbate a US tariff system that is already stacked against working families”.

“Families shopping in our stores pay higher prices because America already levies import taxes as much as 32% and 67% on basic clothes and shoes,” their letter to the President said.

“Applying any additional broad-based tariff as part of a Section 301 action would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods.”

 

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