Hundreds of representatives of companies and trade groups are warning President Donald Trump that carrying out his plan to impose tariffs on $300 billion more in Chinese imports will hurt consumers’ pocketbooks, hamper business growth and fail to achieve the president’s objectives.
“It’ll be the straw that breaks the camel‘s back for a lot of our companies,” said Karen Giberson, president and CEO of the Accessories Council, an industry group whose members include fashion designers, jewelry importers and the upscale retailer Bloomingdale’s.
The howls of opposition coming from retailers like Best Buy, streaming box company Roku, child-products company Baby Trend and other big and small businesses weakens Trump’s hand as he prepares for a possible showdown with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 leaders meeting in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.
More than 300 witnesses are expected to testify over the next seven days, with representatives from sectors that include semiconductors, energy, plumbing, software, home appliances, sports equipment, boat manufacturing, chemical firms, pet supplies, bicycles and fireworks.
Mark Schneider, CEO of the clothing line Kenneth Cole Productions, told administration officials at a hearing in Washington that he has tried finding alternative sources of supply, such as Mexico, for the company’s shoes and other products. But Trump’s unpredictable trade policy — such as a recent threat to slap tariffs on Mexico over migration issues — has made it hard to know where to make sourcing decisions.
“I started looking in Mexico, but I got scared off,” Schneider said Monday. “Some sort of stability with this type of discussion would be really helpful. There’s no preparation for anything.“
Businesses have also tried to lobby members of Congress and the administration directly against the imposition of more duties. Their best hope is to persuade U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to leave their industries’ items off the broad list of products that will face duties of up to 25 percent.
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