AP Photo/Susan Walsh
- For years, businesses have expressed support for changes to intellectual property rules and state subsidies they say leave them at a disadvantage
- But when it comes to how to resolve those issues, the president’s views have become increasingly isolated from those leading corporate America.
- The Trump administration takes pride in its use of tariffs as leverage in trade negotiations, but economists warn that approach hurts businesses at home.
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President Donald Trump is far from alone in his calls to address Chinese trade practices seen as unfair.
For years, businesses have expressed support for changes to intellectual property rules and state subsidies they say leave them at a disadvantage. But when it comes to how to resolve those issues, the president’s views have become increasingly isolated from those of corporate America.
Executives from across the country descended on Washington this week to tell the administration that they would be hurt by Trump’s plans to slap punishing tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports, urging officials to find another approach.
"We share your frustration that a trade deal has not yet been settled with China," said Steven Jacaruso, the chief operating officer at footwear company Jack Rogers, in a summary prepared for testimony before the US Trade Representative."At the same time, we are strongly opposed to using shoe and accessories tariffs as a bargaining chip in the effort to secure that deal."
"It is our strong hope, and fervent request, that you can negotiate this deal without imposing new taxes on the US companies, the US workers, and the US consumers who you are trying to protect with this new agreement," added Jacaruso, who was scheduled to testify Thursday.
The Trump administration takes pride in its use of tariffs as leverage in trade negotiations, asserting that its "America First" approach will ultimately help workers at home. Bringing jobs back to the US has been one of its key initiatives since the campaign trail.
But Trump’s proposed tariffs on roughly $300 billion worth of Chinese products would act as a steep tax on American importers, according to economists. Businesses warn protectionism could force them to increase prices, lay off employees and delay investment.
"While we appreciate the effort to attempt to protect American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development, we cannot support these proposed Section 301 tariffs," said Christopher Norris, the global logistics coordinator at Scosche Industries, a consumer electronics business.
Instead, Norris argued that the US should work with allies to pressure China. The administration has drawn sharp backlash for its decision to impose blanket tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last year, including from Canada and European Union countries.
"Rather than imposing unilateral tariffs to address China’s policies and practices there are alternatives that would not have the same adverse impacts on US consumers, businesses, and local communities or undermine the benefits of the tax reform," Norris said. "It is critically important that you address common concerns about China’s trade and investment policies by working with like-minded partners."
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