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Coalition Details to USTR How Proposed Tariffs Will Harm US Economy

With the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office set to hold hearings this week to consider input from industries impacted by proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports by the Trump administration, a coalition of more than 100 associations submitted comments outlining how the levies would harm the U.S. economy.

The groups, including the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America and Retail Industry Leaders Association, urged the administration instead to develop a comprehensive strategy to address China’s unfair trade practices by aligning with Congress and like-minded trading partners.

“The proposed tariff list and escalating tariff threats made by the administration will not effectively advance our shared goal of changing these harmful Chinese practices in a durable, verifiable and enforceable manner,” the coalition wrote. “Only through extensive collaboration and alignment can the administration develop and execute a strategic policy to effectively address our shared issues of critical concern in China.”

The coalition’s letter, addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said the proposed tariffs “will be counterproductive and undermine your efforts to change China’s policies and practices,” and that there “is no way to scope tariffs such that they would not impose direct and indirect costs on U.S. imports, inputs and exports in a way that strains the global supply chain and drives prices up.”

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The coalition noted an understanding that the Section 301 tariff threat is intended to create leverage for shifting the direction of the Chinese economy, but that the way it’s being handled has left businesses’, farms’ and workers’ livelihoods at risk.

Costs arising from any tariffs will end up being passed on to the U.S. consumer in the form of higher prices. Raising the costs of U.S. imports from China will also have an adverse impact on U.S. exports of key inputs to China, as Made in China product often comprises American components.

The letter noted there are many consumer goods on the proposed tariff list, including goods that incorporate hardware, software, design and R&D inputs from the U.S., as well as industrial parts and capital goods that U.S. manufacturers and workers require to make competitive American products.

“Should these tariffs go into effect, they will harm the American economy and worker through: higher prices for American consumers, higher costs for American manufacturers, decreased demand for American-made products, decreased global competitiveness for American exporters and ultimately fewer jobs and less income for American workers,” the coalition noted.

What’s more, supply chains aren’t made overnight, and shifting sourcing from one country to the next as a result of tariffs could cost companies contracts, compliance, quality, and ultimately, the value for the consumer, according to the coalition.

On Monday, the NRF launched a TV and digital ad campaign to educate Americans on how tariffs are bad economics. In the ad, economist and actor Ben Stein recreates a scene from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in which he lectures students on the negative impact of tariffs on consumers and the economy.

The TV spot, which includes 30-second and 60-second versions, can be viewed on the campaign landing page, tariffsarebad.com and began airing on on the Fox News Channel morning program “Fox and Friends.” The ad will also air during the final episode of the season for the NBC show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend and on ABC’s “Roseanne.” The TV spots will be supported with a digital campaign encouraging Americans to contact the White House and members of Congress.