Trump imposes more China tariffs, heartland group critical
September 18, 2018
President Donald Trump late Monday announced that the administration will impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion on which the United States has not imposed punitive tariffs before.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released the final list of products on which tariffs will be imposed late Monday night, and it includes a number of food products.
China has said it will retaliate against this latest round of tariffs as the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm and manufacturing groups said the move would hurt average American shoppers.
The new tariffs will hit a lot of consumer goods, although a senior administration spokesman told reporters Thursday afternoon that some electronic consumer products and chemical inputs for textiles and agriculture had been removed from the list.
The tariffs will be imposed at a rate of 10 percent from Sept. 24 until late December when the rate will rise to 25 percent. Critics have said Trump has left the rate low in order not to upset consumers before the midterm elections and during the Christmas shopping season, but the senior administration official said the schedule was to give businesses time to adjust to the tariffs.
The senior official said the new tariffs were being imposed because China has not changed any of its practices since the administration posed the first round of tariffs on steel and aluminum, and in fact has retaliated with tariffs on U.S. farm products.
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The new round of tariffs means that the Trump administration has slapped tariffs on almost half of Chinese exports to the United States, The New York Times reported.
Critics have suggested that the president wants a trade war and has not been clear about what the United States wants out of trade negotiations with China.
But the senior administration official said "We have been very clear with China what we want. They are just refusing to make those changes."
The administration wants "systemic changes" from China, including an end to forced technology transfer, the official said.
On the question of whether Chinese officials will visit the United States for negotiations, the official said that the U.S. and Chinese trade teams "remain in touch."
Meanwhile, Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland," a campaign that grew out of Farmers for Free Trade to include other industries, said in a news release, "These tariffs are going to be paid for by the working families who drive our economy."
"Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple," Gold said. "By choosing to unilaterally raise taxes on Americans, the cost of running a farm, factory or business will grow.
"In many cases, these costs will be passed on to American families. Tariffs have already resulted in layoffs, and this escalation will continue to squeeze American businesses with higher input costs and American farmers with decreasing commodity values.
"While we agree that there are issues that need to be addressed with trading partners, we also think that taxing American families and slowing economic growth is not the solution," Gold said.
"That's why we have launched Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a nationwide, grassroots campaign that unifies American industry in standing up for our economy, our workers and the opportunities every American family deserves.
"Together, we will ensure that Washington understands the real-life consequences of tariffs for communities across the country. Our goal is to get the administration to end the trade war and return to creating opportunity through trade for American businesses, farmers and workers."
The group will host a town hall meeting in Chicago today and has events planned in Nashville on Thursday and in Columbus, Ohio, next week.
In addition to Farm Bureau and other farm groups, the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is supported by the National Retail Federation, the National Fisheries Institute, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Toy Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Consumer Technology Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said the "dramatically escalating" trade war has left farmers without any soybean orders from China, which she said is usually the largest market for North Dakota soybeans.
"The reckless escalation of the administration's trade war is having serious consequences for rural America, which is already suffering from the uncertainty and low commodity prices caused by the disruptions to our markets," Heitkamp said.
"Many family farms are afraid they won't be able to pay the bills if this misguided trade war continues. Our ag economy, and the families whose livelihoods depend on it, cannot afford further disruption. There are smart ways to deal with China's cheating on trade – but stepping on our farmers is not one of them."Heitkamp, who is in a tough re-election race against Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said the trade war "is already hurting North Dakota's largest industries," and noted that the Cavalier County Republican, a rural North Dakota newspaper, recently reported that the Chinese demand for North Dakota is "not there."