Home Business US firms back move to limit Trump’s tariff powers

US firms back move to limit Trump’s tariff powers

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More than 270 American business groups have warned of the “serious negative economic impacts” of Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with other countries.

They have voiced their support for a bill which would rein in the president’s powers to slap tariffs on imports.

The legislation, tabled by Republican Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, would require the president to submit any proposal to raise tariffs to Congress for approval on the grounds of national security.

A letter, first reported by USA Today, has been sent to senators signed by 51 trade groups joining the US Chamber of Commerce and 222 state and local business groups.

It said firms and farmers “are deeply concerned that the president’s unrestricted use of section 232 to impose tariffs may not be in the national interest”.

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“It is now also increasingly clear that the way the steel and aluminum tariffs have been used will result in retaliatory tariffs from our largest trading partners and closest allies, and that retaliation will have serious negative economic impacts on the United States,” it said.

Congress delegated powers in 1962 to the president to invoke tariffs.

But the firms argued: “While the president should still have this type of authority, the current circumstances highlight the need for Congress to ensure that the authority will be used, as intended by the Congress, in the overall national interest.”

In just weeks, Mr Trump has increased tariffs on imports from China, the EU, Canada and Mexico as he pushes ahead with his campaign pledge to protect American jobs and has described trading relationships with his neighbours and allies as unfair.

They have all so far hit back with retaliatory tariffs on US imports which the letter said are “undermining US efforts to build an international coalition of like-minded countries to join the United States in combating the use of unfair trade and investment policies”.

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The list of US products hit includes bourbon whiskey, cranberries, cosmetics, motorbikes, orange juice and jeans.

The trade war risks significantly raising prices for consumers, while global stock markets, which have largely ignored Mr Trump’s complaints as “bluster” and a negotiating ploy, are getting more jittery as nations retaliate.

Harley-Davidson has said it will move some production of motorcycles destined for the EU overseas after Brussels retaliated against Mr Trump’s tariffs.

The levy on Harley-Davidson bikes has increased to 31% from 6%, the Milwaukee-based company said.

It said it will not pass on the cost of tariffs to its customers as that would have a lasting detrimental impact to business in the region, which is its second largest market.

The plans, which could see production shift to plants in Brazil, India and Thailand, have been attacked by the president

He warned in a tweet on Tuesday: “If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”

He added: “A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never!”

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