U.S. Businesses Roll out Campaign to End Tariff Wars

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U.S. businesses have united in a campaign to be unveiled on Wednesday against President Donald Trump's tariff efforts.

A variety of industries are supporting the multimillion-dollar "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" campaign by Americans for Free Trade, aiming to highlight the negative consequences of tariffs in advertising, town hall-style meetings beginning next week and reaching out to member of Congress.

Nearly 450 companies or industries hired trade issue lobbyists in 2017, up from about 100 when Trump took office in 2017. The anti-tariff movement stretches across industries and includes farming, technology and toy businesses.

Some businesses are concerned about rising costs of materials, including raw materials imported from other countries. Others, notably farmers, have expressed concern about retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. exports by China and the European Union.

Automobile manufacturers, auto dealers and vehicle parts makers will collaborate on a campaign in opposition to Trump's tariffs, and last week a retail trade association, which includes Target and Walmart, brought 150 small retailers to meetings with members of Congress to discuss how tariffs can damage their businesses.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the Koch brothers are also involved in individual lobbying efforts to promote free trade.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is supportive of the tariffs. China and the EU ban the import of U.S. beef with hormones.

The imposition of $200 billion in tariffs is expected soon on Chinese imports, atop $50 billion in tariffs already in effect. Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are also in force.

China, the EU and other trade partners have announced tariffs of their own on American goods. In using a part of trade law allowing imposition of tariffs by executive order in the name of national security, Trump has bypassed the usual policy changes enacted after debate in Congress. That maneuver essentially nullified the work of lobbyists, until now. It is also why new lobbying efforts target the Trump administration alone.

The "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" campaign has identified Washington, D.C., and Florida as media markets on which to concentrate. Americans for Free Trade has also identified 10 states important to Trump's re-election campaign, and will showcase stories of farmers there hurt by the Trump's trade policies.

"We had hoped we wouldn't get to this point, but there has been no sign of progress in the talks or de-escalation, simply more rhetoric about increasing tariffs, that's not going to be good for the economy," said Matthew Shay, president of the coalition member National Retail Federation.

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