U.S. firms blast Trump administration over tariff hikes
US companies have launched an initial salvo against the Trump administration's negotiating tactics, warning that many U.S. firms are opposed to raising tariffs on Chinese goods, saying it will increase their costs, risk the country's industry competiveness, as well as jobs, reports Reuters.
A woman shops at a Walmart Supercenter store in Rosemead, California on May 23, 2019. [Photo: AFP]
This comes on the first of seven days of public hearings by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington on President Donald Trump's plan to hit another 300 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese products with higher tariffs.
The proposed tariff list includes nearly all consumer products, such as cell phones, computers, toys, car seats and electronic gadgets. Trump and some top officials in his cabinet have said that the tariffs, if imposed, would accelerate a move of manufacturing out of China.
However, many U.S. companies said on Monday that they have few alternatives other than China for producing clothing, electronics and other consumer products. Many witnesses have told the USTR hearing that moving their company's operations to other countries would not be feasible for years, as alternative locations lack skills and infrastructure.
Meantime, U.S. manufacturing companies represented at the hearings were among the most vocal.
Monica Gorman, vice president of New Balance, said the tariffs "will risk our company's overall financial health, which will in turn limit our ability to maintain and re-invest in our American factories."
Marc Schneider, chief executive of fashion footwear and apparel marketer Kenneth Cole Productions, said 25 percent tariffs would raise costs and prices and risk jobs. "We're going to lower the quality of footwear, raise prices and accomplish nothing by moving it around to other countries," said Schneider.
Last week, over 600 U.S. companies and associations sent a joint letter to the White House, urging it to stop escalating trade tensions with China through tariff hikes.
"We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families and the U.S. economy," reads the letter, signed by 520 companies and 141 associations. "Tariffs are taxes paid directly by U.S. companies."