United States large retailers urge Trump against China tariffs

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is leading an investigation into China's treatment of American intellectual property, and is expected in the coming weeks to hand over its recommendations to address any unfair practices to President Donald Trump.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the letter.

"Tariffs on electronics, apparel, and other consumer products would increase prices for US consumers and businesses, while doing little to address the fundamental challenges posed by unfair and discriminatory Chinese trade practices", they said in the letter.

It is interesting to note that China is also the largest foreign holder of the US government debt.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently proposed a package of tariffs on China, with the trade deficit with Beijing running to a record $375 billion (€306 billion) previous year.

On Monday, Walmart, Ikea, Target and nine other large retail brands in the USA signed a petition to urge the Trump administration to halt the anti-China tariff plan.

According to data from the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), 41 percent of clothing, 72 percent of footwear and 84 percent of travel goods sold in the US are made in China. "As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices", the petitioners wrote.

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They highlighted the potential impact, including higher prices for electronics, apparel and other products, and harming U.S. companies that sell component pieces of final products exported from China.

AEM said that over the past several months their businesses were being hurt by increasing steel prices on the expectation that the Trump administration would levy the steep tariffs over national security concerns.

The letter is the latest example of the growing division between the Trump administration and the business community over trade policy.

The Trump administration "should not respond to unfair Chinese practices and policies by imposing tariffs or other measures that will harm U.S. companies, workers, farmers, ranchers, consumers, and investors".

Both the NRF and AAFA were signers on the Sunday petition.

"Domestic industry will be able to apply for exclusions through a fair and transparent process run through Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security", said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement.

A confrontational approach, warns Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of AAFA, could result in retaliatory tariffs by China that target American businesses.

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