Walmart, Target, Costco and Dollar Tree are among 25 retailers across the U.S. that have undersigned a letter sent to President Trump urging him to avoid imposing massive tariffs on goods imported from China.
The retailers are part of a joint effort by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the American Apparel & Footwear Association, whose members worked to help pass tax reform. However, the letter sent to the president this week outlines the industry’s concerns that any benefits from tax reform will be wiped out by broadly applied tariffs on everyday consumer products.
“We support holding our trading partners accountable and using targeted trade remedies against intellectual property theft, illegal dumping or subsidies, and other proven trade violations,” the letter reads. “At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families.
“Applying any additional broad-based tariff would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics and home goods. As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices. We must do right by American families while also addressing harmful technology practices.”
The White House indicated it would consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act as part of its investigation into unfair Chinese technology and intellectual property policies and practices. Under Section 301, the president has unilateral and discretionary action to retaliate against China. The retaliation package could include widespread tariffs on common consumer goods.
“As the industry closest to consumers, retailers know firsthand how high tariffs will hurt American families,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “If the administration’s latest proposal goes into effect, Americans will see price increases on a wide range of basic products they purchase regularly at their local stores. We agree it’s time to address China’s unfair trade practices, but we can do so in a way that doesn’t destroy jobs, create uncertainty for businesses and increase every American’s cost of living.”
In a statement on behalf of RILA, President Sandy Kennedy said imposed tariffs could set the industry back. “This is not American industries crying wolf. Higher tariffs will mean higher costs to businesses and in turn higher prices for American families. After a major tax reform victory, widespread tariffs on everyday consumer goods will wipe out much of the benefits realized by the average American household. We must do right by American families, and make sure they are not the ones who will pay for China’s harmful technology practices.”
A full copy of the letter is available on the RILA website.