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Americans for Free Trade Statement on United States Trade Deficit Dropping 12 Percent in February

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 2, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement after the United States trade deficit dropped 12 percent in the month of February.

“A 12 percent drop in the trade deficit is significant and very troubling for the U.S. economy. What’s worse is that the decrease happened in February, before the surge of COVID-19 cases hit the United States. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on the economy, it is more important than ever for the Administration to provide as much relief as possible to American businesses, manufacturers and farmers so they can keep their doors open and employees working. We urge President Trump to provide tariff relief for companies who desperately need the liquidity to remain operational. This is an executive action that the president can take to immediately help U.S. companies and their employees.

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BACKGROUND

The U.S. trade deficit shrank in February to the smallest in more than three years as imports declined more than exports ahead of the hit to global commerce from the expanding pandemic. (Jeff Kearns, “U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed to a Three-Year Low in February,” Bloomberg, 4/2/20)

Americans want tariffs removed

The trade war with China has cost American businesses, consumers, farmers, and manufacturers over $53 billion, according to data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. 

While President Trump has consistently claimed that China is paying for these tariffs, it’s simply not the case. And given the severity of the public health and economic crisis surrounding COVID-19, it is more important than ever that tariffs are lifted. But, as reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the Trump Administration is brushing aside calls to put broad import tariffs on hold, despite pleas from the business community that it could help stimulate the increasingly rocky U.S. economy. 

Business owners have been calling for tariffs to be removed since the President’s trade war began because of the uncertainty and damage they cause. As Darryl Meattey, a small business owner in New Hampshire who voted for President Trump in 2016 wrote in the Concord Monitor“…tariffs are slowly driving us out of business.”

Angela Carr, a small business owner in Pennsylvania has also been hit hard by tariffs. In fact, she has paid $500,000 in additional taxes because of tariffs. She shared in PennLive,

“We were thriving before tariffs – and we wanted to use our success to promote our goods to new markets, grow distribution, develop new products, hire additional staff, and give current employees increased compensation and benefits . . . but now, because of the tariffs, our cash has been so significantly impacted, these things are no longer possible.”

The Boston Globe highlighted how in Massachusetts, Delta Cycle owner Jeff Greenstein is unable to grow his business and has been forced to raise prices of his products because of the trade war.

“…my employees and my customers have done nothing wrong. So why are we being punished when we have nothing to do with this fight?”

Echoing the notion of uncertainty by tariffs, Reuters highlighted several other business owners across multiple industries that have been affected by tariffs. One of the most notable examples came from MISCO President Dan Digre, an audio equipment maker with 100 employees who has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tariffs.

“It just seems wrong. We’re not creating anything new. We’re spending all this time and money trying to deal with a problem that’s more or less self-inflicted.” 

The agricultural industry is especially being hit hard from tariffs. Recently, Minnesota farmer Tim Dufault testified at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing stating:

“…while you would be hard pressed to find a farmer who would disagree with the fact that China has been a bad actor, farmers have shouldered the pain for a strategy that has seen only one minor tariff reduction and several tariff escalations.”

It’s critical that President Trump provides immediate financial relief to American businesses and workers during this period of uncertainty. After all, as seen in RedState.com, the trade war could unravel President Trump’s economic accomplishments and cost him reelection in November.

Americans for Free Trade Responds to President Trump’s Claim that Other Countries Are Behind Letter Asking to Suspend Tariffs

WASHINGTON D.C., (March 18, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement in response to President Trump’s comments at the White House press conference today where he suggested that other countries were behind Americans for Free Trade’s call to suspend tariffs: 

“This letter calling for President Trump to suspend tariffs was not sent by China, it was sent by a coalition of 160 American business associations representing thousands of American businesses and millions of American workers. The letter shares the concerns of US manufacturers, retailers, farmers and agribusinesses who have been paying for tariffs since the President’s trade war began.”

The full text of the letter may be found here.

Americans for Free Trade Calls on President Trump To Suspend Tariffs In Response to Coronavirus Outbreak, Provide Relief to Millions of American Farmers, Manufacturers, and Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C., (March 18, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade called on President Trump to suspend tariffs as part of the Administration’s emergency measures to help mitigate economic harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 
 
“American farmers, manufacturers, and consumers have been paying for tariffs since the trade war began, and they’re hurting even more now from the economic effects of the coronavirus,” said Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold. “The Administration should provide much-needed relief to businesses and families by suspending tariffs. This is an action that the Administration can take today without waiting on authorization from Congress, and we urge President Trump to act without further delay.” 
 
The letter was signed by 160 businesses and organizations, representing every part of the U.S. economy including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, forest products, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders.
 
The full text of the letter may be found here and below:
 
March 18, 2020
 
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:
 
As you consider emergency measures to mitigate the economic harm from the spread of the coronavirus, Americans for Free Trade urges you to consider taking swift action on a policy that would provide tax relief to millions of American farmers, manufacturers, families, and consumers without having to wait on action from Congress: suspending the additional tariffs placed on certain imports under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.  These tariffs are taxes that Americans pay.
 
According to research by Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC, suspending the Section 301 and 232 tariffs currently imposed on imports from China, and China’s associated retaliation, would provide a boost to the U.S. economy of over $75 billion, or 0.4 percent of U.S. GDP, returning discretionary income to families, encouraging capital expenditures by private companies, and instilling market confidence in decisive action to address the current economic situation.  Moreover, as a set of policies that were implemented using executive authority, suspending these tariffs can be taken quickly and decisively by your Administration without further authorization steps from Congress.
 
Americans for Free Trade represents every part of the U.S. economy including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, forest products, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders, among them many small and family-owned businesses from across the nation.
 
Together, we urge you to provide tariff relief as one of the measures to help those hurting financially from the economic effects resulting from the current public health crisis.

Previewing the Ohio Primary: Tariffs Deserve Significant Attention

Ahead of the Ohio primary, it is important to spotlight the many ways that tariffs have damaged the state’s economy, as well as the threat they continue to pose for businesses and communities across the United States. 

According to data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Ohio taxpayers have paid $1.7 billion in additional tariffs since the beginning of the U.S.-China trade war. Trade plays a crucial role in the state’s economy, helping to support 1.4 million jobs across Ohio. What’s worse, the trade war could cost the state 76,500 jobs if no action is taken. 

This is precisely why candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination must tell Ohio voters their plans to remove all tariffs and finally bring an end to the harmful trade war. 

As Ohio businesses have experienced first-hand, the tariffs put in place by the Trump administration are taxes that are paid by Americans, not China. Walter Spiegel, chief compliance officer at Standard Textile, recently described to the Cincinnati Enquirer what the increased tariff costs mean for Ohio businesses:

“Tariffs are paid by the importer – that’s us, that’s not China … It’s taking cash out of the pocket of a company and paying the government. That’s less money to create jobs, expand, buy new equipment or to hire new employees.”

Unfortunately, as businesses continue to feel pressure from the trade war with China, those tariffs translate into higher prices for us all. Gary Yacoubian, who owns the Youngstown-based speaker company SVS Sound, described to Axios late last year what continued tariffs could mean for Ohio businesses and consumers in the year ahead:

“If the tariffs remain, I’m going to have to start making moves … Meaning: the consumer will pay, and I’ll pay, and then employees will pay, if we don’t grow according to plan.”

The Phase One Deal made important progress towards providing Ohio’s manufacturers and farmers some relief from the trade war, but much work remains to be done. Ohio and other swing states have been among the hardest hit by the trade war, and presidential candidates who hope to win in November need to show that they’re dedicated to ending tariffs.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about the trade war and how it is hurting Ohio residents ahead of the primary, please contact press@americansforfreetrade.com.

Previewing the Arizona Primary: Tariffs Deserve Significant Attention

In preparation for the Arizona primary, it is important to remember the harm that tariffs have caused to the state’s businesses, communities, and families, as well as to hardworking Americans across the country. 

According to data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Arizona taxpayers have already paid $436 million in additional tariffs because of the trade war. Beyond that, trade helps to support 746,700 jobs in Arizona, and 42,700 jobs could be lost in the state if the trade war continues.

Democratic presidential candidates have the opportunity to show Arizona voters that they are dedicated to protecting the state’s economy by laying out a plan to lift all remaining tariffs and bring the trade war to an end. 

If the tariffs that the Trump administration have put in place continue, many of the state’s key industries will be at risk. As the Arizona Daily Star reported, cotton and pecan farmers have been hit particularly hard by the trade war, with many already struggling to cut costs. Daniel Pacheco, Farm Manager at Pacheco Farm Management, spoke about trade’s importance to Arizona’s farmers:

“We’re just hoping the market’s going to turn and we can come to some sort of agreement with these tariffs … That’s the only thing holding the price down right now. China has all the manufacturing, so we’re kind of at their mercy as far as them wanting to buy our crops.”

Farming isn’t the only industry hurting because of tariffs. Speaking to KTAR last year, Arizona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Glenn Hamer discussed how every industry in the state shoulders the burden:

“This will affect every sector of our economy, whether it’s mining, semiconductors. Agriculture always gets the brunt … It’s very, very important that the two leading economies in the world figure out a way to get to a good deal. End of story.”

Significant progress was made with the signing of the Phase One Deal, but much work still remains, which is exactly why all presidential candidates must commit to bringing an end to the trade war.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about the trade war and how it is hurting Arizona residents ahead of the primary, please contact press@americansforfreetrade.com.

Previewing the Florida Primary: Tariffs Deserve Significant Attention

Leading up to the Florida primary, tariffs remain a major problem that threaten business owners, farmers, and communities throughout Florida and across the United States.

Analysis from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland shows that to date, Florida taxpayers have paid $1.5 billion in additional tariffs since the trade war with China began. Beyond this, trade helps to support 2.4 million jobs in the state, and 145,300 jobs could be lost if Florida businesses don’t receive the relief they need from the trade war.

This alarming data is exactly why Democratic presidential candidates must show Floridians that they are dedicated to helping the state recover from the damage dealt by tariffs and lay out a plan to finally bring the trade war to an end. Florida is a key swing state, and ending the trade war is an issue Democratic candidates should be talking about. 

Alice Ancona, director of International Strategy and Policy with the Florida Chamber of Commerce noted that international trade accounts for a quarter of Florida’s economy and said that tariffs cause “a pretty significant impact.”

Americans are the ones paying for tariffs – not China. As the Miami Herald reported, Elliott Barnett’s company Dewitt Tool was faced with the unfortunate reality of deciding to raise prices due to the ongoing trade dispute with China.

“The future is simple: We will have to raise our prices,” Barnett said. “It’ll be passed on in the cost to build the bridge, to build the tunnel.”

While the Phase One Deal was a welcome step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done to finally remove all tariffs that remain in place. Democratic presidential candidates need to show Floridians that it’s work they’re willing to do to revitalize the economy.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about the trade war and how it is hurting Florida residents ahead of the primary, please contact press@americansforfreetrade.com.

Previewing the Florida, Ohio, and Arizona Primaries: Tariffs Deserve Significant Attention

Looking ahead to the next round of Democratic primaries, tariffs remain a significant problem that threaten business owners, farmers, and communities throughout America and in key states such as Florida, Ohio, and Arizona.

Data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland shows that to date, taxpayers in Florida, Ohio, and Arizona have paid a combined $3.6 billion in additional tariffs since the trade war with China began. Beyond this, trade supports over 3.8 million jobs in these three states, and 264,500 jobs could be lost if businesses don’t receive the relief they need from the trade war.

This is exactly why Democratic presidential candidates need to show Floridians, Ohioans, and Arizonans that they are laser-focused on helping these states recover from the damage brought by tariffs and lay out a plan to finally bring the trade war to an end. 

Americans are the ones paying for tariffs – not China. As the Miami Herald reported, Elliott Barnett’s company Dewitt Tool was faced with the upsetting reality of deciding to raise prices due to the ongoing trade dispute with China.

“The future is simple: We will have to raise our prices,” Barnett said. “It’ll be passed on in the cost to build the bridge, to build the tunnel.”

Unfortunately, as businesses continue to feel pressure from the trade war with China, those tariffs translate into higher prices for us all. Gary Yacoubian, who owns the Youngstown-based speaker company SVS Sound, described to Axios late last year what continued tariffs could mean for Ohio businesses and consumers in the year ahead:

“If the tariffs remain, I’m going to have to start making moves … Meaning: the consumer will pay, and I’ll pay, and then employees will pay, if we don’t grow according to plan.”

Industries across the spectrum are hurting because of tariffs. Speaking to KTAR last year, Arizona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Glenn Hamer discussed how every industry in the state shoulders the burden:

“This will affect every sector of our economy, whether it’s mining, semiconductors. Agriculture always gets the brunt … It’s very, very important that the two leading economies in the world figure out a way to get to a good deal. End of story.”

While the Phase One Deal has provided some relief, much more work remains. That’s why it’s important that presidential candidates lay out a plan to remove all tariffs that have hurt Floridians, Ohioans, Arizonans, and Americans nationwide.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about the trade war and how it is hurting residents ahead of the primaries, please contact press@americansforfreetrade.com.

Americans for Free Trade Sends Letter to House Ways and Means Committee Urging Congress to Insist Trump Administration Immediately Lift All Tariffs


Despite Progress Provided by “Phase One” Deal, Tariffs Continue to Hurt American Businesses, Farmers, and Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C.,– March 12, 2020 – Yesterday, Americans for Free Trade sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee to be included in the public record of the February 27th Committee hearing on U.S.-China Trade and Competition. 

“The Section 301 tariffs have sown uncertainty in the world’s economy and mistrust with trading partners. The American economy deserves a better approach,” 162 members of the AFT coalition wrote. “Tariffs diminish U.S. negotiating successes, not facilitate them, and we urge the Administration to pursue alternative, more strategic, means of leverage to hold China accountable. …We urge Congress to insist that the Administration lift all punitive China tariffs immediately.”

As part of the letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, AFT highlighted the Tariff Misery Impact, data showing that tariffs have cost Americans $50 billion since the trade war began. 

Full text of the letter may be found here and below:

March 11, 2020

The Honorable Richard Neal, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means            

1102 Longworth House Office Building   
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin Brady, Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means

1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                           

Dear Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady:

The Americans for Free Trade Coalition, a broad alliance of American businesses, trade organizations and workers united against tariffs, respectfully submits this written statement to include in the public record of the Ways and Means Committee hearing on U.S.-China Trade and Competition, which took place on February 27, 2020. We appreciate the Committee holding the hearing on this important matter.

Our coalition represents every part of the U.S. economy including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders. Collectively, we support tens of millions of American jobs through our vast supply chains.  

We agree that our trading partners must abide by global trade rules, but the Administration must also pursue its trade policies in a manner that best serves the American economy.  Accordingly, we support the Administration’s efforts to address China’s unfair trading practices, including intellectual property violations, forced technology transfer, market-distorting subsidies, and more. We also appreciate the progress made by the “Phase One” agreement with China and the lifting of a small number of tariffs on Chinese imports. Nevertheless, we object to the unconventional and unpredictable methods the Administration has used – and Congress has allowed – to achieve those goals. The Section 301 tariffs have sown uncertainty in the world’s economy and mistrust with trading partners. The American economy deserves a better approach.

First, the “Phase One” deal does not address fundamental concerns with China’s industrial policies and massive subsidies that have created overcapacity in the global market and cost American businesses, farmers and consumers jobs and hurt the American economy. Indeed, the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace last year since the president took office. Tariffs diminish U.S. negotiating successes, not facilitate them, and we urge the Administration to pursue alternative, more strategic, means of leverage to hold China accountable.  

Second, tariffs remain in place on $370 billion in goods, and it is American businesses, farmers and consumers who pay these taxes – not the Chinese. While the suspension of the List 4B tariffs and reduction in the List 4A tariffs were welcome steps, they fall well short of alleviating the burden this Administration has placed on Americans. In fact, Americans paid $72 billion in duties in fiscal year 2019 – a staggering 73 percent increase over fiscal year 2018. $50 billion of this increase is the direct result of the trade war. For U.S. companies importing components or finished products subject to the tariffs, these figures mean higher prices, job losses and reduced investment. These increased tariffs will cost the average American household $1,277 in 2020 – nearly eliminating any savings enjoyed as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs ActWe urge Congress to insist that the Administration lift all punitive China tariffs immediately.  

Third, the Section 301 product exclusion process needs significant improvement. There have been numerous reports about the inconsistency with which the exclusion process has been administered, the opaqueness with which USTR makes decisions on exclusion petitions and the overall sluggishness of the process. We urge Congress to increase its oversight of the exclusion process and demand that USTR administer the process in a fair, transparent and efficient manner to ensure that it provides meaningful relief for those bearing the brunt of these harmful tariffs.

Finally, we have attached two documents for your reference:  (1) AFT’s Tariff Misery Index, which demonstrates the economic impact that the Section 301 tariffs are having on the U.S. economy; and (2) a list of recent studies on the economic impact of the tariffs.

In summary, we appreciate the progress provided by the “Phase One” deal, but much more needs to be done to secure meaningful structural reforms from China and to remove the tariffs that are hurting Americans. We thank the Committee for holding this hearing and look forward to additional hearings on these critical issues.

Previewing the Michigan Primary: Tariffs Deserve Significant Attention

As we approach the Michigan primary, it is important to remember the damage that tariffs have done to businesses, communities, and families across the state, as well as the risk they continue to pose to Michigan’s economy. 

As research from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland shows, Michigan taxpayers have paid $2 billion in additional tariffs to date thanks to the trade war with China, with costs only projected to increase. Given that trade supports 1.1 million jobs in the state, this is especially alarming because the trade war could cost Michigan 61,700 jobs.

Democratic candidates should tell Michiganders how they plan to bring the trade war to an end and finally eliminate the tariffs that are weighing down the state’s economy. 

Michigan manufacturing companies in particular bear a significant portion of the burden from the trade war, as Coliant Corp. CEO John Swiatek recently revealed to the Detroit Free Press

“The current tariffs and trade war have made it nearly impossible for a company like ours to bring in revenues from around the world to here in Michigan … Meanwhile, other high-tech countries like Germany and China are enjoying the competitive benefit of this disruption.”

Beyond manufacturing, small businesses have been feeling the pain from tariffs as well. Unfortunately, as small businesses deal with higher costs from tariffs, they have no choice but to increase prices for consumers. Barb Stein, who owns Great Northern Trading Co., explained small businesses’ predicament to MLive:

“I’m hearing from my suppliers that some have already instituted a price increase, some are promising one at certain deadlines … It’s definitely going to affect prices for consumers.”

While the Phase One Deal makes some strides toward providing relief from the trade war, plenty of work still remains. If Democratic candidates want to show voters how they will help support Michigan’s economy and jobs, they should talk about their plans to remove all tariffs and protect Michigan’s economy.If you are interested in speaking with someone about the trade war and how it is hurting Michiganders ahead of the primary, please contact press@americansforfreetrade.com.