Executives say tariffs will boost prices

2019-06-24 14:35:09 China Daily Li Yan

New duties by Washington target consumer goods

United States companies, from toymakers to fireworks dealers, are pleading to exempt certain items from the proposed new tariffs on Chinese imports, while officials are trying to ensure that alternative sources of supplies exist outside China.

That is what is taking place at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, where at least 300 businesses and industrial groups have converged to testify in seven days of hearings since June 17 on the planned 25 percent duties to be levied on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Executives and industrial leaders told officials that China is an indispensable and almost irreplaceable partner in the global market.

However, to their disappointment, they are likely to fail in their pleas as analysts warned that most of the businesses' urgings would probably fall on deaf ears.

As of Thursday, the U.S. Trade Representative had received 2,714 written comments from companies, trade groups and individuals.

Most of them are lamenting that the plan to impose additional tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports would lead to higher prices for consumers, disrupt supply chains and potentially ruin businesses.

While in the first two rounds of up to 25 percent tariffs on Chinese products - $50 billion levied earlier last year and $200 billion kicked in early this month - have shielded consumers by largely targeting advanced goods and components, the new threatened duties have increasingly included consumer products.

To get an appreciation of how extensive and broad the target list is, some business representatives said at the hearings that they were "surprised" that some of their items, already spared from the administration's previous tariffs on Chinese goods, are targeted again.

The USTR office has said that product exclusions it granted on prior tranches wouldn't be affected.

Stephen Knerly, a lawyer for Association of Art Museum Directors, said AAMD opposed the proposed imposition of a 25 percent tariff on works of art of Chinese origin, including paintings, drawings, collectibles and antiques.

Nobody wants to spend 25 percent more for the same object, especially when they're bidding at auction, Knerly said, pointing to the impact of tariffs on one of the U.S.'s major sources of art works.

"The AAMD was surprised to see Chinese-origin artworks listed in the proposed tariff, as they were excluded from the prior 10 percent tariff," Knerly said. "The AAMD hopes that the inclusion of the art categories is simply a mistake, a mistake that will be rectified before tariffs are imposed."


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