Retail and industry groups warn a trade war could be costly

James Melton | Jun 15, 2018
China has pledged a tit-for-tat response. In April, it said it would levy 25% tariffs on imports of 106 U.S. products in response to proposed American duties.

The White House on Friday imposed $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods—a move, it says, will protect American workers and businesses from unfair trade practices. But the country’s largest retail trade association and some analysts are not buying that argument.

“Tariffs are taxes on American consumers, plain and simple,” Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF) said in a statement. “These tariffs won’t reduce or eliminate China’s abusive trade practices, but they will strain the budgets of working families by raising consumer prices.”

Today’s White House statement calls the tariffs “essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs.” That echoes the sentiments of a White House statement on May 29, which cited a United States Trade Representative’s investigation that found China’s technology policies put 44 million American technology jobs at risk.

However, the NRF statement says a study it commissioned with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), a group that represents companies in the consumer technology industry, found that the tariffs, coupled with the impact of retaliation, would lead to four job losses for every job gained and reduce U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $3 billion.

In May, representatives of the NRF testified before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during a hearing last month to share the retail industry’s concerns over tariffs. And in an NRF television ad, economist and actor Ben Stein reprised his role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to explain why tariffs are bad economics.
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