News & Press Releases


News

ICYMI: Industry leaders discuss need to end tariffs in Pennsylvania

In case you missed it, Tariffs Hurt the Heartland recently hosted a virtual roundtable discussion featuring Pennsylvania farmers, business owners and manufacturers that are being negatively impacted by President Trump’s trade war with China. 

Leaders across several industries shared how the elimination of tariffs would help their businesses navigate and survive the complexities of the market, especially now in the midst of COVID-19. Sherril Mossee, founder and CEO of MinkeeBlue said,

“When the tariffs hit, I was really devastated because I had little money to begin with, and [tariffs] impacted my business tremendously. I’ve been working tirelessly trying to figure things out while I try to navigate tariffs, manufacturing, and trying to make sure that I stay relevant in the market.”

Speaking to the impact that Pennsylvania farmers have experienced, Dennis Wolff, owner of Pen-Col Farms in Millville, shared:

“The trade war has been devastating to [Pennsylvania] agriculture, agriculture across the United states, and rural America. There is no question that when a farmer goes out of business it not only impacts that farm and [their] family, but it also hurts the surrounding areas in rural Pennsylvania.”  

Pennsylvania taxpayers have paid over $1.6 billion in additional taxes because of the trade war. What’s worse, tariffs could cost 84,800 jobs in Pennsylvania.

Craig Allen, President of the U.S.-China Business Council shared how an additional deal must be made to provide tariff relief:

“The continued use of tariffs is really causing a lot of damage in both countries, and the sooner that we are able to reach a Phase Two agreement, the better it will be for distillers, farmers, and manufacturers all across the country.”

Now is the time to end tariffs.

Bipartisan Group of Senators, Members of Congress Press U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Devastating Impact of Tariffs

Last week, during hearings in the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress and Senators spoke to the negative impacts that President Trump’s tariffs are having on the economy in their states and across the country.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) underscored the detrimental effects that these taxes are having on the steel and aluminum industry in Pennsylvania:

“When tariffs raise the cost of the steel and aluminum, those are higher cost inputs for those manufacturers, who then are less able to compete with foreign companies that are not subject to those taxes…Imposing those taxes on American consumers and manufacturers generally makes us less competitive, not more competitive.”  

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) highlighted data that shows it is American business, farmers, and consumers who have suffered from the tariffs, not China:

“Studies by multiple Federal Reserve economists and notable academics have found that American businesses and consumers bear the brunt of the Trump Administration’s trade war with China. Our farmers, our manufacturers in particular have been hit hard throughout the country.”

During the House Ways & Means Committee hearing, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) told Amb. Lighthizer about how hard the tariffs have hit Indiana’s R.V. manufacturers, who need lauan wood to make their products. However, lauan wood is no longer available in the United States, leaving R.V. manufacturers with no choice but to import from abroad: 

“There’s no domestic substitute [for lauan wood] and it has left R.V. manufacturers paying $1 million a month in unnecessary tariffs.” 

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7) made the case for why tariffs add insult to injury in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pain felt by American consumers and businesses is now being magnified by the pandemic. People are suffering through the loss of loved ones due to the virus. They’ve lost income from losing jobs, and they don’t really have the extra cash in this moment for the burden of paying higher prices due to the tariffs…After all, tariffs are taxes on American consumers and businesses.”

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) told Amb. Lighthizer about Steelite International America, a company headquartered in his district that delayed a planned expansion because of the costs of tariffs on materials they are unable to source in the United States but need to manufacture their products: 

“If there’s no American producer, what can I tell them because they have no other option and yet they’re getting burdened with these tariffs?”

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) outlined the significant harm tariffs have caused the economy in general as well as the catastrophic impact of tariffs on the wine industry in his district: 

“As the National Bureau of Economic Research pointed out, we were going into recessionary times before COVID, and all the leading economists tell us it’s because of these tariff wars that we’ve been subjected to…In my district, the leading industries in regard to exports are hit extremely hard because of tariffs and the tariff wars.”

The New York Timesalso highlighted the growing opposition to tariffs since the COVID-19 pandemic began, quoting Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold as saying:

“Tariffs are taxes that American businesses, farmers and consumers pay. The administration should not leave any economic tools on the table during this time of economic recovery, and that includes deferral of all duties that American companies pay.”

Americans have paid over $57 billion in tariffs because of the trade war, and these taxes continue to threaten the survival of American businesses already struggling to keep their doors open amid the economic crisis. The time is now for Amb. Lighthizer and the Trump Administration to end the tariffs.

Americans For Free Trade Statement Ahead of Ambassador Lighthizer’s Testimony Before the House Ways and Means Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C., (June 17, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer’s testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. 

“Tariffs are taxes that American businesses, farmers, and consumers pay. Since the President’s trade war began, Americans have paid more than $60 billion in additional tariffs. The Administration should not leave any economic tools on the table during this time of economic recovery, and that includes deferral of all duties that American companies pay. We strongly encourage Ambassador Lighthizer to listen to the concerns of Members from across the country whose constituents are suffering from tariffs and commit to doing everything in his power to end the tariffs and provide immediate economic relief.”

Industry leaders discuss need to end tariffs in North Carolina

Last week, Tariffs Hurt the Heartland hosted a virtual roundtable discussion featuring North Carolina farmers, business owners and manufacturers that are being negatively impacted by President Trump’s trade war with China. 

Leaders across many industries shared how the elimination of tariffs would help their businesses navigate and survive the complexities of the market, especially now in the midst of COVID-19. Sean Brownlee, CEO of Ravenox said:

“Knowing that as a small business we have spent over $150,000 on tariffs, we are not able to hire [more] employees like we would want to. And I know a number of other U.S. based manufacturers that are facing the same problem.”

Dr. John Boyd, President of the Black Farmers Association, spoke to the significant impact tariffs are having on farmers across the country:

“This is a very troubling time in our country. The impact of the China trade war has been devastating for small scale farmers and African American farmers.”

North Carolinians have paid over $1.4 billion in additional taxes because of the trade war. What’s worse, tariffs could cost 63,500 jobs in North Carolina — farmer bankruptcies have already risen 33 percent.

“The financial impact [of tariffs] has been very stressful for us, as over the past year we have spent close to a million dollars. We are a small business and these tariffs are really cutting into our reserves and margins,” said Green Sprouts Founder and President Becky Cannon.As noted in RedState.com, President Trump’s tariffs have created an undue burden on the most vulnerable sectors of our economy, and Americans are starting to take notice. Now is the time to end tariffs.

American Loudspeaker Manufacturing Faces Factory Closures and Exporting Jobs Unless President Trump Repeals Tariffs

By: Barry Vogel
 
Two months ago President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, the largest stimulus package in American history. The law recognizes the critical need to quickly inject cash into the U.S. economy in order to help workers and businesses survive the current crisis, and many companies are grateful for the help. But my industry and many others continue to struggle for one primary reason: the President’s trade war with China.
 
As Congress has worked quickly to limit the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic, the loudspeaker industry that I represent continues to face a steep 25 percent tariff on their components that go into loudspeakers, which include the large speakers that fill concert halls with music as well as smaller speakers that entertain families at home.
 
But concert venues are now empty and large public gatherings are mostly canceled. Meanwhile, many of the stores that sell loudspeakers have had to close their doors for an extended period under stay-at-home orders. With their main sources of revenue gone over the past two months, the loudspeaker industry is in free fall. It hangs by a thread as sales come to a crawl, while overhead and tariff costs still loom large. Loudspeaker companies are struggling right now—but President Trump can help by making a deal with China to end the trade war and eliminate harmful tariffs.
 
Tariffs are taxes that Americans pay. And in the middle of the coronavirus crisis that economists say could lead to a prolonged recession, tariffs could very well drive loudspeaker companies towards the brink of bankruptcy if they aren’t rolled back soon. Tariffs squeeze budgets and have cost loudspeaker businesses millions of dollars in additional taxes. That money could have been better spent on hiring and growing our companies. In fact, before the trade war began, several loudspeaker companies had plans to expand manufacturing and hire more American workers. But because of tariffs, our industry is now being forced to focus instead on how to survive with thinner margins and larger operating costs.
 
Our industry has made direct appeals to the Trump Administration. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which oversees the implementation of tariffs and trade policy, provides tariff exclusions to select companies that file requests. Many loudspeaker companies requested exclusions, but they were not granted. The current process lacks any transparency to understand why some companies and industries are receiving an exclusion while others, like mine, are not. Exacerbating the problem further, assembled loudspeakers imported from China are exempt from the tariffs giving them an even greater price advantage over American manufacturers.
 
Some large, politically connected corporations were able to have their requests granted, sometimes after meeting with government officials. But loudspeaker companies were denied exclusions without explanation, leaving them and other smaller industries to shoulder the burden of the trade war. The results are the opposite of what the Administration was trying to achieve: tariffs have actually helped shrink the number of manufacturing plants in America. Worse, the trade war weakens and disrupts critical supply chains amid the coronavirus pandemic, harming our country’s response to COVID-19. All in all, America is weaker while it is in a trade war.
 
Tariffs are causing many American manufacturers to close their doors and collapse, allowing China to consolidate global manufacturing while facing little competition from abroad. The handful of existing loudspeaker companies in America that are facing tariffs and a recession are on the verge of closing. These businesses are asking President Trump to make a deal with China and end the trade war.

Economists have said that nobody ever wins a trade war. Now is the time to end tariffs before it bankrupts companies and further harms the economy.

Tariff concern hits record high

Tariffs are continuing to burden Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

As reported by Axios this week, a recent survey conducted by CivicScience shows that concern about President Trump’s trade war with China hit its highest level in April.

“The tariffs remain a massive tax on American businesses and individuals at a time when Congress and the Fed are expending trillions of dollars to offset the negative economic shock of the virus.”

This news comes as House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal called for a 90-day suspension of all tariffs on goods necessary to combat the COVID-19 public health crisis. Any deferral or suspension of tariffs is welcome and needed, especially as isopropyl alcohol, a critical ingredient in hand sanitizer and other disinfectants, is still subject to a 25 percent tariff.

“The tariff is making it more difficult for companies to supply our nation’s essential workers with antiseptics and sanitizing products they need to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, tells Reason.

To make matters worse, China is nowhere near meeting their monthly purchase of U.S. goods, meaning that they are not holding up to their Phase One trade agreement. As Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold pointed out earlier this week,

“Adding more tariffs during a time of economic crisis will only further punish U.S. companies, manufacturers, and farmers who are already struggling to survive.”

Rather than putting new tariffs in place, the President should be focused on removing the existing tariffs in order to help American businesses survive.

Americans for Free Trade Statement on President Trump’s Comments that New Tariffs Would be the “Ultimate Punishment” for China

WASHINGTON, D.C., (May 4, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement in response to President Trump’s comments on Fox News Sunday night that adding new tariffs would be the “ultimate punishment” for China. 
 
“Tariffs are taxes paid to the federal government by American businesses, not China. Adding more tariffs during a time of economic crisis will only further punish U.S. companies, manufacturers, and farmers who are already struggling to survive. Rather than putting new tariffs in place, the President should be focused on removing the existing tariffs, which would instantly free up billions of dollars that businesses need now to stay open and preserve U.S. jobs.”

ICYMI: “Trump’s tariffs add to pandemic-induced turmoil of U.S. manufacturers”

A new story in Reuters details how President Trump’s tariffs are hurting hundreds of small and large American businesses that are fighting for survival during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tariffs are taxes that American businesses pay to the federal government. Companies that were struggling to pay the President’s tariffs before the health crisis hit explain why these tariff payments are even harder to make now:

“Dan Digre, head of MISCO Speakers, was on edge before the coronavirus outbreak hit the global economy. Payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Chinese tariffs had wiped out the profit and dwindled the cash balance of the Minnesota-based loudspeaker maker. Now Digre is grappling with dropping sales and payment delays. With cash ever harder to come by, he must cough up the money for President Donald Trump’s 25% tariffs…” 

Many retailers are being forced to continue making tariff payments even though government mandates are keeping their doors closed:

As AFT spokesman Jonathan Gold said, “Companies are paying taxes on goods that they can’t sell right now for the stay-at-home orders.”

The unprecedented economic challenges created by the coronavirus outbreak and the President’s tariffs are forcing some businesses to temporarily cease operations or consider closing.  

“San Diego-based athleisure maker Vivacity Sportswear has been paying a 25% tariff on one-third of its raw materials that are sourced from China, leading to a 15% drop in profit last year, CEO Vivian Sayward said. In the past two months, the company’s revenue has dropped 80% and inventory has increased by 60%. Shrinking profit margins and depressed demand have compelled it to temporarily halt all manufacturing.”

The data is clear: the Trump Administration could free up billions of dollars for struggling U.S. companies by suspending or delaying tariffs. This much-needed cash could help revenue-starved businesses pay employees, suppliers, and other critical bills. Until then, American companies, workers, and consumers will continue to pay the price for President Trump’s trade war. 

Americans for Free Trade Urges President Trump to Delay All Duties American Companies Pay to Federal Government; Free Up Billions of Dollars in Cash for Businesses Fighting for Survival

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 28, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade urged President Trump to take further action to provide relief to struggling American businesses by delaying the collection of all duties and fees. The coalition of over 470 businesses also called on the Administration to expand its current program so that duties from May and June are also deferred. 

“The Administration’s announcement last week to defer the collection of certain duties for 90 days was a good first step, but many companies were excluded from this measure and will still owe significant duties to the federal government during a time of economic crisis,” said Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold. “As hundreds of small and large businesses face urgent liquidity issues, we are calling on President Trump to go further and delay all duty payments to help give companies the cash they need to stay open, preserve American jobs, and be in a position of strength when the economy reopens.” 

The Administration could expand the current Executive Order and defer collection of all duties without waiting on authorization from Congress. As it currently stands, the Administration is only deferring the collection of some duties and only for imports made in the months of March and April. Deferring all duties for imports made in March, April, May and June would instantly free up billions of dollars for companies, many of which currently have little to no revenue, to use to pay employees, suppliers, and other critical bills. 

The Americans for Free Trade letter was signed by over 470 businesses and organizations of all sizes, representing retailers, manufacturers and other service providers, as well as farmers and ranchers.  

The full text of the letter may be found here and below:
 

April 28, 2020

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

Thank you for your ongoing leadership to address the unprecedented economic challenges created by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Your leadership has included measures that have helped many businesses delay payments like income and payroll taxes to increase liquidity. The announcement to delay certain duties was another welcome step to help American companies stabilize their finances and buy time.

While this program will certainly benefit some U.S. companies, it will not benefit many others because certain important duties have been excluded and because it only covers imports made during the first half of March and April. While we understand the need to keep strong U.S. trade policies front and center, merely delaying the payment of these additional duties will not harm trade policy. The duties will still be paid, just at a later date. 

It is with this in mind that we make two urgent recommendations. First, we ask that you extend the program to cover imports made during May and June. Second, we urge that the program be expanded to defer the due dates for all duties and fees.

Combined, these two actions would immediately free up billions of dollars of working capital for American companies — like those listed below — to pay suppliers, employees, service providers and other critical stakeholders. This cash is even more important for companies that have had to close their doors because of stay-at-home orders, leaving them with little to no revenue to make ends meet.

Companies facing urgent liquidity issues need their duty payments deferred in order to succeed when the economy reopens. Deferring these duties will help further ensure the success of your Great American Economic Revival effort by giving companies the additional cash they need to stay open, preserve U.S. jobs and reopen their doors from a position of strength.

With future Congressional action uncertain, the American economy depends on your leadership and swift action. Your leadership alone can provide immediate relief to companies large and small from all sectors of the economy including manufacturers, retailers and other service providers, farmers and ranchers.

Sincerely,

Americans for Free Trade Statement on Executive Order to Defer Some Duties for 90 Days for Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 20, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement regarding the Administration’s announcement to defer collection of certain duties for 90 days for businesses struggling during the coronavirus outbreak:

“The Administration’s announcement to defer the collection of some duties for 90 days is welcome news and a good first step to help provide temporary relief to American companies that are fighting for their survival during the coronavirus pandemic. Delaying the collection of certain duties will help free up cash for companies who desperately need it to stay afloat and preserve U.S. jobs.  While we thank President Trump for listening to the concerns of businesses and taking action to help them get through this crisis, many companies were left out of this measure and will still owe significant – and in some cases a crippling amount of – tariffs to the federal government at a time when they are struggling to survive an unprecedented economic shutdown. We urge the Administration to heed the call of hundreds of businesses and organizations to expand this Executive Order to all categories of tariffs, and delay collection of all duties for American companies.”

On March 18, 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, sent a letter calling on President Trump to suspend tariffs as part of the Administration’s emergency measures to help mitigate the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.