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As Election Day Approaches, AFT Calls on Both Presidential Candidates to Reject Tariffs in Their Final Argument to Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 29, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of next week’s election.  
 
“In the last few days before the election, President Trump and Vice President Biden must commit to repealing the tariffs and ending the failed trade war in their final argument to voters. Key swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are among the hardest hit by tariffs, and voters in these states need to see leadership on trade policy from both candidates. While tariffs have not been the predominant issue of this campaign, to many farmers, business owners, and manufacturers, it is the single greatest challenge they face every day. President Trump and Vice President Biden would be wise to make sure the American people know they will put American workers and consumers first and end the trade war.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement Ahead of Final Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 22, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of tonight’s final Presidential debate.  

“As President Trump and Vice President Biden make their final pitch to voters during tonight’s debate, it is critical that both candidates use their time on the national stage to commit to repealing tariffs and ending the trade war. It is long overdue for the tariffs to be lifted, yet neither candidate has made a firm commitment to end the trade war if they’re elected in November. American farmers, businesses, and consumers continue to pay tens of billions of dollars in tariffs at the same time they struggle to stay afloat amid the economic crisis. Americans need relief now. We encourage both candidates to use tonight as an opportunity to show leadership and promise immediate relief to Americans.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement On Trade and Tariff Comments During Vice Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 8, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement regarding last night’s Vice Presidential Debate at the University of Utah. 

“Last night’s debate gave Americans the opportunity to hear where the Vice Presidential candidates stand on tariffs and the trade war. While Vice President Pence doubled down on the Administration’s trade policies, Senator Harris highlighted the devastating impact of the trade war on jobs, manufacturing, and agriculture in the United States. Although Vice President Pence attacked Vice President Biden’s plan ‘to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect,’ it would be welcome news to the American businesses, workers, consumers and farmers who have paid nearly $60 billion in taxes to the federal government in the form of tariffs since the trade war began. Lifting the tariffs should not be a partisan issue – members of both parties have long supported trade policies that put American workers and farmers first – and we urge both the Trump Administration and Biden campaign to commit to repealing the tariffs.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement Ahead of Vice Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 7, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate at the University of Utah. 

“Never in recent history have the stakes been higher for a Vice Presidential debate, and millions of Americans will be tuning in tonight to hear directly from Vice President Pence and Senator Harris about their vision for our country. As the economy and American businesses continue to struggle, both candidates would be wise to use this opportunity to speak out against tariffs, and the billions of dollars in taxes that American companies, farmers, and consumers have paid as a result of the President’s failed trade war with China. We should use every tool available to help lift our nation out of this economic crisis, and we urge Vice President Pence and Senator Harris to use their time on the national stage to show leadership on this issue and call for tariffs to be lifted.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement On First Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (September 30, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement on the presidential debate in Cleveland, OH last night.   
 
“During last night’s presidential debate, both candidates had the opportunity to show their support for American businesses, farmers, and workers by vowing to end the trade war and lift tariffs. Unfortunately, neither candidate used their time to highlight how tariffs and the ongoing trade war have cost Americans nearly $60 billion. While the President repeatedly attacked China as he has throughout his presidency to justify the trade war, he failed to mention that tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, not China. These taxes have been particularly harmful for businesses already struggling this year amid the economic downturn. In this final stretch of the campaign, it is critical for both candidates to commit to ending the tariffs and focus their efforts instead on policies that will help revitalize American businesses and communities and provide much-needed relief to our manufacturing and agricultural sectors.”

Americans for Free Trade Applauds Representatives Walorski, Peterson for Their Bipartisan Bill to Extend Tariff Exclusions

WASHINGTON, D.C., (July 28, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade sent a letter to Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) expressing strong support for their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 7665, to extend current product exclusions from the Section 301 China tariffs for at least one year. Over 160 trade associations signed the letter, citing the need to provide certainty for companies who have been granted exclusions and give transparency to the current exclusion process. 

“As businesses around the country try to recover from the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they need as much certainty as possible to ensure a full and successful recovery,” Americans for Free Trade wrote. “The exclusion process as implemented by USTR should not stand as a barrier to a businesses’ ability to recover. Businesses often have to wait months – and some have waited up to a year – to find out from USTR whether they have been granted an exclusion.”

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

July 28, 2020

The Honorable Jackie Walorski                                
419 Cannon House Office Building                          
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Collin Peterson
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Walorski and Representative Peterson,

            On behalf of Americans for Free Trade, we are writing to thank you for your leadership and express our strong support for H.R. 7665, which directs the United States Trade Representative to extend current product exclusions from the Section 301 China tariffs for at least one year. We fully believe that H.R. 7665 is needed to provide certainty for companies who have been granted exclusions and transparency to the current exclusion process. 

            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.  

            As businesses around the country try to recover from the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they need as much certainty as possible to ensure a full and successful recovery. The exclusion process as implemented by USTR should not stand as a barrier to a businesses’ ability to recover. Businesses often have to wait months – and some have waited up to a year – to find out from USTR whether they have been granted an exclusion. Often that news comes at the last minute, with the exclusion expiring shortly after they receive it. This forces businesses to expend resources reapplying for the same exclusion right away. 

We have also heard from many businesses about the lack of transparency around the process, for example how or why one business is granted a product exclusion, but another is denied for the same product. In many instances, companies who have been denied an exclusion – even in instances where there was no industry objection – have not been provided full details as to why their exclusion was denied. This information would help businesses better understand the type of information USTR is looking for in future exclusion requests, as well as understand whether USTR is administering the process in a fair and transparent manner.

            We recently submitted comments for the record for the Ways & Means Committee hearing with Ambassador Lighthizer on the 2020 Trade Policy Agenda. In those comments, we called upon the Committee to increase its oversight of the exclusion process and insist 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. We also noted concerns with Ambassador Lighthizer’s comments that future extensions to current exclusions would only be granted through this calendar year. We believe the statements demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the complex business decisions that determine where global supply chains are developed and whether they can or should be moved. The comments also showed little regard for the economic uncertainty faced by American businesses because of the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why your legislation, which will provide much-needed certainty, is so critically important.

            We thank you for your ongoing leadership regarding the impact of tariffs on U.S. businesses throughout the economy. We encourage quick passage of H.R. 7665.

Sincerely,

Americans For Free Trade Files Comments to the Public Record Following United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s Testimony at House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C., (July 1, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade filed comments to the public records of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee in response to the June 17th testimony of United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer before both committees on the President’s 2020 Trade Policy Agenda.

“Members and Senators from both sides of the aisle made it clear during Amb. Lighthizer’s testimony that President Trump’s tariffs are having a negative impact on the economy in their states and across the country,” said Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold. “Tariffs are billions of dollars in taxes that American businesses, farmers, and consumers have been paying since before the COVID-19 outbreak, and they are causing even greater harm now amid the continuing economic crisis. The Administration should be doing everything it can to stimulate the economy during this time of economic recovery, and that’s why hundreds of American businesses, manufacturers, and farmers are calling on President Trump to end the tariffs now.”

160 companies signed onto these comments for the public record. The letter to the House Ways & Means Committee may be found here and the letter to the Senate Finance Committee may be found here.

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.”