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Trade group, with HFA, calls tariffs ‘a losing proposition’

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A free-trade coalition including the Home Furnishings Association urged President Trump to continue pressing China for a trade deal without raising tariffs. 

“We are encouraged by your decision to avoid a tariff increase on March 2 and allow negotiations to continue ahead of a planned summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping,” Americans for Free Trade wrote in a Feb. 27 letter to the president.

The coalition was formed in 2018 by scores of business groups, including HFA, the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Home Furnishings Alliance, International Wood Products Association, The Hardwood Federation and many state retail associations. 

“Our coalition represents every part of the U.S. economy, including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders,” the letter said. “Collectively, we support tens of millions of American jobs through our vast supply chains. We agree that China and other trading partners must be held accountable for trade violations. However, broadly applied tariffs do more harm than good and force American companies to foot the bill for China’s misbehavior. 

“According to data released by our coalition, American businesses paid an additional $2.7 billion in tariffs in November 2018 alone, the most recent month data is available from the U.S. Census Bureau. This represents a $2.7 billion tax increase and a massive year-over-year increase from $375 million in tariffs on the same products in November 2017. The data also shows that U.S. export growth hit its lowest level of 2018, thanks in part to a 37 percent decline in exports of products facing China’s retaliatory tariffs. This data highlights that tariffs as a negotiating tactic will always be a losing proposition because Americans — not foreign countries — are the ones paying the price.” 

The coalition applauded Trump for his hard work “to achieve better trade deals for the American people, and we are encouraged by the progress that has been made” but added that “existing tariffs and shifting deadlines are hanging over American businesses and farmers and undermining their ability to grow, invest and plan for the future.”