Multi-Industry Coalition Calls for Tariff Elimination as Part of U.S.-China Negotiations 


WASHINGTON — Americans for Free Trade, a coalition of business organizations from every sector of the American economy, today sent a letter to President Trump urging five specific outcomes from U.S.-China trade talks, which the White House has said are nearing completion. The letter, which was signed by 151 coalition association partners representing companies that employ tens of millions of American workers and provide goods and services to virtually every corner of the United States, asks for:

  • The full and immediate removal of all recently imposed tariffs, including U.S. tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs as part of a final deal;
  • A deal that levels the playing field for U.S. companies by achieving meaningful changes to address China’s unfair trade practices that put American technology, innovation and intellectual property at risk
  • Avoidance of any enforcement mechanism that would trigger further tariffs;
  • Clarity on how the tariff exemption process will be carried out in the event of a deal; and
  • An economic assessment by the Administration examining the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers.

“American businesses and farmers bearing the burden of the trade war have been told repeatedly by your Administration that they must endure ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’ the letter states. “They were promised that tariffs were merely a means to an end, and that all this damage would be worth it. A deal that fails to lift tariffs would represent a broken promise to these hardworking Americans.”

Americans for Free Trade continues to advocate at the national and grassroots level to help illustrate the negative economic impacts of recent tariffs and the trade war. On April 24th, Americans for Free Trade will be holding a town hall event in Williamsburg, Iowa as part of the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign that will bring together businesses, farmers and elected leaders to examine the impact of tariffs across Iowa.

The full text of the letter sent today:

April 22, 2019

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20001

Dear Mr. President:

We are encouraged by news reports of progress in resolving the nation’s trade dispute with China.  We hope that your leadership and the ongoing negotiations will lead to a final deal in the coming weeks that resets U.S.-China trade relations.  As your negotiating team works to complete the remaining crucial elements of the agreement, we write to urge your Administration to prioritize five specific outcomes that are essential to the diverse industries, businesses and workers our coalition represents.

First, any deal must fully eliminate tariffs. As our coalition has made clear since the trade war began, tariffs are taxes that American businesses and consumers pay. To date, Americans have paid over $21 billion in taxes due to the imposition of new tariffs. Furthermore, every single second the tariffs remain in place, Americans are paying over $1,500 in added tariffs, and those figures don’t include the impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farmers, manufacturers and exporters. These taxes and the uncertainty they’ve created have resulted in layoffs, deferred investments and price increases in every corner of the country. Our campaign has shared over 500 stories of American businesses and workers negatively impacted by the trade war.

As we inch closer to a final deal, a key part must be the full and immediate removal of all added tariffs when the deal is signed. Anything that falls short of that goal would be a loss for the American people. American businesses and farmers bearing the burden of the trade war have been told repeatedly by your Administration that they must endure “short-term pain for long-term gain.” They were promised that tariffs were merely a means to an end, and that all this damage would be worth it. A deal that fails to lift tariffs would represent a broken promise to these hardworking Americans.

Secondly, any deal must truly address China’s unfair trading practices. For too long, China has engaged in unfair trading practices, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft, intellectual property violations and more. We hope any final deal will resolve the structural issues that are at the core of the trade dispute in order to fully protect American technology, innovation, and intellectual property.

Third, the Administration must avoid any enforcement mechanism that would trigger future tariffs and result in long-term economic uncertainty. We agree that enforcement must be a part of a final deal. However, coming home from the bargaining table with a deal that results in perpetual tariffs would be a failure. Instead of resetting our relations with China, this would continue the current status-quo of punitive tariffs that hurt American businesses and families. Using tariffs to enforce a deal that eliminates tariffs is a lose-lose proposition, and once again, Americans would pay the price. We must have an enforcement mechanism that does not punish Americans for China’s unfair trade practices.

Fourth, American businesses deserve clarity on how the exemption process for the first two lists of tariffed products will be impacted by a U.S.-China agreement. There are many American businesses who have now been waiting for months for exemptions and are on the precipice of receiving relief from the tariffs. In the event of a deal, the relief these companies have been seeking cannot be abandoned. We ask instead that you conclude the exemption process, regardless of negotiation outcomes, in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

Finally, consistent with established practice for trade agreements and other safeguards, we believe that after completing a deal the federal government must undertake a full economic assessment of the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers, particularly before drawing any conclusions about the role tariffs played in negotiations. Only through an in-depth look at the costs of import tariffs, retaliatory tariffs, lost markets, trade loss mitigation plans, deferred investments, business uncertainty and other factors will we truly understand the negative economic impact of tariffs as a negotiating tactic. We believe that any true accounting of the costs of the trade war would disprove their effectiveness as a means for negotiating trade outcomes and reinforce the fundamental truth that tariffs are taxes paid by Americans.

Like you, we want a trade deal with China that achieves meaningful change in our trading relationship with China.  Tariffs, however, have already proven to be the wrong way to accomplish this goal. The economic harm we predicted has come to pass as American businesses and farmers across the country have suffered the consequences from the onslaught of tariffs. It will only worsen if your Administration chooses to retain or add punitive tariffs against China or other countries going forward.


Accessories Council

Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC)

ALMA, International (Association of Loudspeaker

Manufacturing and Acoustics)

American Apparel & Footwear Association


American Association of Exporters and Importers


American Association of Port Authorities

American Bakers Association

American Chemistry Council

American Coatings Association, Inc. (ACA)

American Down and Feather Council

American Home Furnishings Alliance

American Lighting Association

American Petroleum Institute

American Pyrotechnics Association

American Rental Association

American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

Arizona Technology Council

Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association

Association For Creative Industries

Association for PRINT Technologies

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers

Auto Care Association

Beer Institute

BSA | The Software Alliance

Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers

Association (BIFMA)

California Retailers Association

Coalition of New England Companies for Trade


Coalition of Services Industries (CSI)

Colorado Retail Council

Columbia River Customs Brokers and Forwarders


Computer & Communications Industry

Association (CCIA)

Computing Technology Industry Association


Consumer Technology Association

Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

CropLife America

Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Assn. of

Washington State

Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders of

Northern California

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Electronic Transactions Association

Fashion Accessories Shippers Association


Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association

Flexible Packaging Association

Florida Ports Council

Florida Retail Federation

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America


Fragrance Creators Association

Game Manufacturers Association

Gemini Shippers Association

Georgia Retailers

Global Chamber®

Global Cold Chain Alliance

Grocery Manufacturers Association

Halloween Industry Association

Home Fashion Products Association

Home Furnishings Association

Household and Commercial Products Association

Idaho Retailers Association

Illinois Retail Merchants Association

Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers

Association (IOPFDA)

Indiana Retail Council

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)

International Foodservice Distributors Association

International Housewares Association

International Warehouse and Logistics Association

International Wood Products Association

Internet Association

Juice Products Association (JPA)

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight

Forwarders Assn.

Louisiana Retailers Association

Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association

Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association

Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay

Maryland Retailers Association

Methanol Institute

Michigan Chemistry Council

Minnesota Retailers Association

Missouri Retailers Association

Motorcycle Industry Council

NAPIM (National Association of Printing Ink


National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS)

National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD)

National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ)

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of Music Merchants

National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM)

National Confectioners Association

National Council of Chain Restaurants

National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders

Association of America

National Fisheries Institute

National Foreign Trade Council

National Grocers Association

National Lumber and Building Material Dealers


National Marine Manufacturers Association

National Restaurant Association

National Retail Federation

National Sporting Goods Association

Natural Products Association

New Jersey Retail Merchants Association

North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD)

North Carolina Retail Merchants Association

Ohio Council of Retail Merchants

Organization for International Investment

Outdoor Industry Association

Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and

Freight Forwarders Assns. Inc.

Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association


Personal Care Products Council

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

Petroleum Equipment & Services Association

Plumbing Manufacturers International

Power Tool Institute (PTI)

Precious Metals Association of North America


Promotional Products Association International

Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association

Retail Association of Maine

Retail Council of New York State

Retail Industry Leaders Association

Retailers Association of Massachusetts

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound


RV Industry Association

San Diego Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn.


Snowsports Industries America

Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates

Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)

South Dakota Retailers Association

Specialty Equipment Market Association

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America

Sports & Fitness Industry Association

Texas Retailers Association

Texas Water Infrastructure Network

The Airforwarders Association

The Fertilizer Institute

The Hardwood Federation

The Toy Association

The Vinyl Institute

Travel Goods Association

Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA)

U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association

United States Council for International Business

United States Fashion Industry Association

US Global Value Chain Coalition

US-China Business Council

Virginia Retail Merchants Association

Virginia-DC District Export Council (VA-DC DEC)

Washington Retail Association

Window and Door Manufacturers Association

World Pet Association, Inc. (WPA)