President Trump announced last Friday that he wants the U.S. trade representative to find another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports on which to impose a 10% tariff. The initial reactions from U.S. business leaders has not been positive.
That’s no surprise, as they didn’t like the first round of tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods. Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable acknowledged that something must be done to level the playing field, but both argued that tariffs were not the right answer. That is especially true of tariffs on products imported from long-time U.S. friends such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
China already has announced counter-tariffs and the EU has announced that it will begin charging tariffs on imports of U.S. goods this Friday in response to U.S. tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum.
In response to the Trump’s announcement last Friday, the Business Roundtable on Tuesday issued the following statement:
Quadrupling down on a ‘shoot first’ approach with the Chinese government will only make it harder to achieve a fair and level playing field for American companies to compete in China. Risking a trade war with more tariffs will only invite more retaliation that will cause significant harm to the U.S. economy.
Instead, the Administration should be squarely focused on the long-term economic objective of protecting U.S. workers and businesses. The best way to achieve that objective is to work with our allies and place coordinated pressure on China to end their harmful trade and investment practices.
Will the president listen to the Chamber of Commerce and to the CEOs? Doubtful. That’s not this administration’s style.