Broad Coalition of Trade Groups Criticize Trump’s China Tariffs

More than 100 associations have signed onto a letter warning of the dangers of a potential trade war caused by tariffs on China. The letter, sent to leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, highlighted a growing coalition in opposition to the Trump administration’s tariffs.

President Donald Trump’s attempts to implement tariffs on China have gotten the attention of the association community—and many trade groups don’t like what they see.

In recent weeks, more than 100 organizations—including the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the Consumer Technology Association, and numerous others at the local, state, and national level—have joined forces to speak out against the tariff efforts, which they argue will punish American businesses more than they will the intended target.

In a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and ranking member Richard Neal (D-MA) ahead of an April 11 meeting on trade issues, the associations used tough language in opposition to the Trump administration’s efforts.

“We agree that China’s ongoing intellectual property rights violations, forced technology transfers and state interventions harm U.S. companies, workers, consumers and our competitiveness,” the letter, published on the National Retail Federation website [PDF], stated. “We are concerned that the proposed tariff list, and escalating tariff threats made by the Administration, however, will not effectively advance our shared goal of changing these harmful Chinese practices.”

The letter goes on to highlight how the rules could negatively affect supply chains, which often work months in advance, and would specifically hurt U.S. farmers, who would be affected by retaliatory tariffs from China.

“This would hurt the economy as a whole, as well as jobs and consumers in every state,” the letter continued. “Everyone loses in a trade war.”

The initiative, which Bloomberg characterized as a “rare coalition” earlier this week, has actually grown significantly in recent weeks. An earlier version of the coalition, which sent a letter to Trump last month, had around 45 signatories. The most recent iteration of the coalition, organized by the NRF and ITI, was up to 107 signatories.

“There’s a sense of urgency on this issue, and the growing coalition is a sign that the business community is united against the proposed tariffs,” NRF spokeswoman Bethany Aronhalt told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

While the coalition highlights broad opposition to the tariffs in the association community—groups focused on apparel, alcohol, furniture, footwear, toys, and trucks are among those on the list—not everyone is necessarily on board with the letters. The Wall Street Journal noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce didn’t sign onto the second letter, though it put its name on the first. Other groups with significant interest in the trade issue, such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the Semiconductor Industry Association, have also passed on signing the letters.

Nonetheless, ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield noted that the scope of signatories highlights just how important the issue is.

“It is rare that over 100 business associations would come together to work on any issue,” Garfield told The Hill.

(utah778/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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