Americans for Free Trade, a group of nearly 150 industry associations covering everything from retailers to truck engine manufacturers, in a letter to the President yesterday did an excellent job breaking it all down.
Their letter (in its entirety below) should have you appreciating why the trade debate has been a central focus herein for far too long now!:
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
Washington, D.C. 20001
Dear Mr. President:
We are encouraged by news reports of progress in resolving the nation’s trade dispute with China. We hope that your leadership and the ongoing negotiations will lead to a final deal in the coming weeks that resets U.S.-China trade relations. As your negotiating team works to complete the remaining crucial elements of the agreement, we write to urge your Administration to prioritize five specific outcomes that are essential to the diverse industries, businesses and workers our coalition represents.
First, any deal must fully eliminate tariffs. As our coalition has made clear since the trade war began, tariffs are taxes that American businesses and consumers pay. To date, Americans have paid over $21 billion in taxes due to the imposition of new tariffs. Furthermore, every single second the tariffs remain in place, Americans are paying over $1,500 in added tariffs, and those figures don’t include the impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farmers, manufacturers and exporters. These taxes and the uncertainty they’ve created have resulted in layoffs, deferred investments and price increases in every corner of the country. Our campaign has shared over 500 stories of American businesses and workers negatively impacted by the trade war.
As we inch closer to a final deal, a key part must be the full and immediate removal of all added tariffs when the deal is signed. Anything that falls short of that goal would be a loss for the American people. American businesses and farmers bearing the burden of the trade war have been told repeatedly by your Administration that they must endure “short-term pain for long-term gain.” They were promised that tariffs were merely a means to an end, and that all this damage would be worth it. A deal that fails to lift tariffs would represent a broken promise to these hardworking Americans.
Secondly, any deal must truly address China’s unfair trading practices. For too long, China has engaged in unfair trading practices, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft, intellectual property violations and more. We hope any final deal will resolve the structural issues that are at the core of the trade dispute in order to fully protect American technology, innovation, and intellectual property.
Third, the Administration must avoid any enforcement mechanism that would trigger future tariffs and result in long-term economic uncertainty. We agree that enforcement must be a part of a final deal. However, coming home from the bargaining table with a deal that results in perpetual tariffs would be a failure. Instead of resetting our relations with China, this would continue the current status-quo of punitive tariffs that hurt American businesses and families. Using tariffs to enforce a deal that eliminates tariffs is a lose-lose proposition, and once again, Americans would pay the price. We must have an enforcement mechanism that does not punish Americans for China’s unfair trade practices.
Fourth, American businesses deserve clarity on how the exemption process for the first two lists of tariffed products will be impacted by a U.S.-China agreement. There are many American businesses who have now been waiting for months for exemptions and are on the precipice of receiving relief from the tariffs. In the event of a deal, the relief these companies have been seeking cannot be abandoned. We ask instead that you conclude the exemption process, regardless of negotiation outcomes, in a fair, transparent and timely manner.
Finally, consistent with established practice for trade agreements and other safeguards, we believe that after completing a deal the federal government must undertake a full economic assessment of the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers, particularly before drawing any conclusions about the role tariffs played in negotiations. Only through an in-depth look at the costs of import tariffs, retaliatory tariffs, lost markets, trade loss mitigation plans, deferred investments, business uncertainty and other factors will we truly understand the negative economic impact of tariffs as a negotiating tactic. We believe that any true accounting of the costs of the trade war would disprove their effectiveness as a means for negotiating trade outcomes and reinforce the fundamental truth that tariffs are taxes paid by Americans.
Like you, we want a trade deal with China that achieves meaningful change in our trading relationship with China. Tariffs, however, have already proven to be the wrong way to accomplish this goal. The economic harm we predicted has come to pass as American businesses and farmers across the country have suffered the consequences from the onslaught of tariffs. It will only worsen if your Administration chooses to retain or add punitive tariffs against China or other countries going forward.
Accessories Council Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) ALMA, International (Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics) American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) American Association of Port Authorities American Bakers Association American Chemistry Council American Coatings Association, Inc. (ACA) American Down and Feather Council American Home Furnishings Alliance American Lighting Association American Petroleum Institute American Pyrotechnics Association American Rental Association American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Arizona Technology Council Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association Association For Creative Industries Association for PRINT Technologies Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers Auto Care Association Beer Institute BSA | The Software Alliance Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) California Retailers Association Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) Coalition of Services Industries (CSI) Colorado Retail Council Columbia River Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn. Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Consumer Technology Association Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) CropLife America Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Assn. of Washington State Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders of Northern California Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Electronic Transactions Association Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA) Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association Flexible Packaging Association Florida Ports Council Florida Retail Federation Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) Fragrance Creators Association Game Manufacturers Association Gemini Shippers Association Georgia Retailers Global Chamber® Global Cold Chain Alliance Grocery Manufacturers Association Halloween Industry Association Home Fashion Products Association Home Furnishings Association Household and Commercial Products Association Idaho Retailers Association Illinois Retail Merchants Association Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association (IOPFDA) Indiana Retail Council Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) International Foodservice Distributors Association International Housewares Association International Warehouse and Logistics Association International Wood Products Association Internet Association Juice Products Association (JPA) Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Assn. Louisiana Retailers Association Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay Maryland Retailers Association Methanol Institute Michigan Chemistry Council Minnesota Retailers Association Missouri Retailers Association Motorcycle Industry Council NAPIM (National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers) National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ) National Association of Home Builders National Association of Music Merchants National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) National Confectioners Association National Council of Chain Restaurants National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America National Fisheries Institute National Foreign Trade Council National Grocers Association National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association National Marine Manufacturers Association National Restaurant Association National Retail Federation National Sporting Goods Association Natural Products Association New Jersey Retail Merchants Association North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD) North Carolina Retail Merchants Association Ohio Council of Retail Merchants Organization for International Investment Outdoor Industry Association Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Assns. Inc. Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association PeopleforBikes Personal Care Products Council Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council Petroleum Equipment & Services Association Plumbing Manufacturers International Power Tool Institute (PTI) Precious Metals Association of North America (PMANA) Promotional Products Association International Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association Retail Association of Maine Retail Council of New York State Retail Industry Leaders Association Retailers Association of Massachusetts RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) RV Industry Association San Diego Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn. SEMI Snowsports Industries America Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) South Dakota Retailers Association Specialty Equipment Market Association Specialty Vehicle Institute of America Sports & Fitness Industry Association Texas Retailers Association Texas Water Infrastructure Network The Airforwarders Association The Fertilizer Institute The Hardwood Federation The Toy Association The Vinyl Institute Travel Goods Association Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association United States Council for International Business United States Fashion Industry Association US Global Value Chain Coalition US-China Business Council Virginia Retail Merchants Association Virginia-DC District Export Council (VA-DC DEC) Washington Retail Association Window and Door Manufacturers Asso