Forty-five United States trade groups urge President to withhold Chinese tariffs

Donald Trump

Forty-five U.S. trade associations representing some of the largest companies in the country are urging President Donald Trump not to impose tariffs on China, warning it would be "particularly harmful" to the United States economy and consumers.

The business groups wrote a letter to Trump on Sunday acknowledging "serious concerns" regarding what they described as China's theft of trade secrets and other practices and policies, but they urged a measured response that avoided tariffs.

"The Administration should not respond to unfair Chinese practices and policies by imposing tariffs or other measures that will harm USA companies, workers, farmers, ranchers, consumers, and investors", the groups said in the letter.

The groups called on Trump to work with trade allies to push for changes to China's policies.

The order has also opened the door to the country's security and trade partners that want to get tariff waivers, as long as they can offer satisfactory alternatives during their talks with the U.S. Trade Representative office.

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Trade associations publicly pushing back include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the Information Technology Industry Council. The administration is also considering clamping down on Chinese investments in the USA and imposing tariffs on a broad range of its imports to punish Beijing for alleged theft of intellectual property, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been directed to begin collecting the 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum at 12:01 a.m. (0401 GMT) on March 23. "We urge the administration to take measured, commercially meaningful actions consistent with global obligations that benefit USA exporters, importers, and investors, rather than penalize the American consumer and jeopardize recent gains in American competitiveness", they said.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will attend a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers, is expected to defend Trump's trade plans against widespread global criticism.

Deng said a day earlier that the delegation's visit is to convey domestic steel and aluminum industry concern over the new tariffs, highlight Taiwan's role as an important security partner of the US and explain to the USA that Taiwan's steel and aluminum makers do not pose a threat to their US counterparts.

Reuters first reported on the Commerce Department rules and procedures from a draft document seen on Friday.


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