Tariffs on China to hit home for every American

US industries warn

27 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

NEW YORK: Kevin Cheung, vice president of a New York-based clothing firm, recently twisted his ankle and is steadily recovering from an intense burning sensation on it.

Yet there are no signs of easing of the "slow burn" that his company, Lisa International, has suffered since the United States initiated tariff disputes with China last March, reports Xinhua.

As Washington increased additional tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent earlier in May and threatened to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports, this worsening trade row between the world's two largest economies has prolonged market uncertainty.

"Clothing tariff is still not in place yet, but we assume it will be here soon. This is a bigger concern to me," Cheung told Xinhua in a recent interview.


Cheung's concern was shared by a growing number of U.S. industry leaders who warned the White House of the "catastrophic" impact of such trade disputes on Americans with rising costs and dwindling profits.

"This latest escalation means the trade war will only get worse and hit home for every American," said a statement released on May 13 by the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign, which comprises over 150 U.S. trade organizations.

Tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses and consumers, and they force American consumers to pay more for clothes, shoes, toys, electronics and even food while making it more difficult for U.S. exporters to compete, it said.

"The trade war has gone on for far too long, and the costs have grown far too high. The patience of farmers, manufacturers, businesses and consumers is wearing thin, " it said.

Grant Kimberley, a sixth-generation soybean farmer and marketing director of the Iowa Soybean Association, said he and his peers hope some quick and positive changes could be made.

U.S. soybean exports to China have been down 89 percent over the past year, and about half of the supplies that would normally have gone to China have now gone somewhere else, with farmers "still at a deficit for net total exports," Kimberley told Xinhua.

"It's likely the trade dispute could be a long-term reality," he said. "With prices going lower and soybean supplies growing, and with only modest hope that a resolution is near, we're likely to be mired in this scenario for some time."

"For some farmers, the crop they're currently planting may be their last," he said.

Washington's tariff hikes will also hit the U.S. toy industry hard given "how heavily we rely on China for toy manufacturing and how thin the profit margins already are," said Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs at the Toy Association, a 950-plus-membered industry group.

The U.S. position on solving trade disputes with China by using tariffs is "very aggressive" but "counterproductive," said Steve Hoffman, a veteran investor and CEO of Founders Space, a leading incubator and accelerator in Silicon Valley.

"Right now, the negative impacts of the U.S.-China trade conflicts are broadening beyond (U.S.) agriculture and beyond commodities, like steel and other stuff, into consumer electronics and other areas. And that could have a big impact in my home turf which is Silicon Valley," Hoffman told Xinhua.

U.S. tariffs on tech product imports from China increased fivefold from 2017 to 2018, said Stefanie Holland, vice president for federal and global policy of the Computing Technology Industry Association.