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US trade rep hears tariff worries

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-05-16 06:06

US businesses are voicing their strong opposition to the proposed tariffs on $150 billion worth of Chinese imports as announced by the Trump administration.

The US Trade Representative on Tuesday started a three-day hearing about the tariffs proposed under the Section 301 of US Trade Act of 1974, following an investigation into China's intellectual property policies and practices. The USTR has received more than 2,700 comments on the tariffs.

The hearing at the US International Trade Commission started on the same day that a senior Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He arrived in Washington for trade talks with a US team headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin led a US delegation to China earlier this month.

The National Retail Federation, which is among some 130 firms and trade groups witnesses, has opposed Trump's tariffs. Its website contains educational information about why tariffs are bad and don't work, while trade works.

David French, senior vice-president of the federation, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday and focus on the difficulties associated with re-adjusting an existing supply chain.

"There are a lot of decisions that go into where a retailer bases their supply chain — it's not done capriciously," he told Inc. magazine.

"It's not as simple as flicking a switch and moving to another country. Some countries don't have the port capacity to serve a market as large as the US, so even if you could find the manufacturing capacity, it could take longer to get it onto a container ship," French said.

The US seafood industry also urged USTR to avoid a tariff war with China. The National Fisheries Institute, Pacific Seafood Processors, and the At-Sea Processors Association warned the USTR that any sanctions against China's seafood industry would "badly harm" US seafood exporters, harvesters and processors. 

Although seafood was initially not part of the list of Chinese products against which sanctions could be levied, they now may be because the Southern Shrimp Alliance, an alliance of eight US southern states, has asked for 25 percent tariffs on all aquaculture products from China, Seafoodnews.com reported.

Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook said he opposed Trump's approach on trade with China in a recent White House meeting with Trump, Bloomberg Television reported on Tuesday.

Cook said his message to Trump focused on the importance of trade and how cooperation between the two countries can boost the economy more than nations acting alone.

Apple makes most of its devices in China, which is also an important and growing market for the company. Apple is now the fifth-largest smartphone seller in China.

Economists believe that if Apple relocated its productions from China to the US, it would make its products uncompetitive on the global market and unaffordable to low-income US consumers.

Contact the writer at chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

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