Friday 19 October 2018

US business lobby slams Trump tariffs

Tom Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce
Tom Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce

Ginger Gibson

The US Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest business lobbying group has launched a high profile campaign to oppose Donald Trump's trade tariff policies.

The Chamber has traditionally been a close ally of the Republican Party.

Under President Trump, however, the party and administration have shifted radically from its historically pro-trade platform.

The new campaign includes an analysis of the financial hit each US state stands to take from potential retaliation to President Trump's tariffs.

It argues that he is risking a global trade war that will hit the wallets of US consumers.

The Chamber is now expected to spend millions of dollars on US midterm elections this year in an effort to help elect candidates who back free trade, immigration and reduced taxes.

It has already backed candidates in Republican primaries, who share those goals.

The Chamber's report finds that $3.9bn (€3.3bn) worth of exports from Texas could be targeted by retaliatory tariffs, including $1.6bn from Mexico and $1.4bn from China.

Texas sends $321m in meat exports to Mexico each year that could be affected. It exports $494m in grain sorghum to China.

With some of America's closest trading partners imposing retaliatory measures, President Trump's approach to tariffs has unsettled financial markets and strained relations between the White House and the Chamber. "The administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve," said Chamber president Tom Donohue in a statement to Reuters. "We should seek free and fair trade, but this is just not the way to do it."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment responding to the Chamber.

The Chamber, which has three million members, historically has worked closely with Republican presidents and had praised Trump for signing corporate tax cuts in December.

But mounting trade tensions have opened a rift with the president.

President Trump has implemented billions of dollars in tariffs targeted at China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, saying such moves are needed to offset trade imbalances, prompting retaliatory levies.

He has previously been persuaded to back off of trade threats with the argument that states that backed him in the 2016 presidential campaign will be hit hard. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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