Major companies are ringing alarm bells, trying to warn Washington about more tariffs


 

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

More than 300 companies are talking to government officials in Washington this month about how detrimental the trade war between the U.S. and China has been and will be to their business.

Testifying in front of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, major U.S. companies including Best Buy, HP and Hallmark Cards are voicing concerns about how the additional tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to slap on China would impact their businesses and cause them to lose business to foreign competitors.

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have heightened since early May after a trade deal fell through. Last month, Trump hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and China retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports. Trump also threatened to slap tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports.

Corporate America and Wall Street are hoping the beginnings of a new deal can be hatched at the G-20 Summit this week when Trump and President Xi Jinping are set to meet.

Here are what some of the executives said last week.

Jason Bonfig, Best Buy’s chief merchandising officer

“Consumer electronics are also not commodities. And in many leading products, there is no practical substitute made outside of China in the near term.”

“American manufacturers may lose share almost immediately to foreign competitors whose products are not made in China and, therefore, not subject to price increases in the form of tariffs.”

Andy Binder, HP Inc.’s vice president and general manager

“We have certainly encountered IP related challenges in China. However, we don’t view broad-based tariffs as the most effective response. … We are concerned, however, that the proposed tariffs ironically would help rather than hinder infringers.”

“These tariffs would raise prices for HP consumers relative to the suspect goods and would not help us to keep suspect products out of the U.S. market. Frankly speaking, for the printing supplies industry, these tariffs do more damage to the consumers and intellectual property holders like HP than it will do to the IP infringing products.”

Sarah Moe, Hallmark Cards’ federal affairs manager

“There are some products that, for cost or capability reasons, cannot be made here. Many of those products are currently sourced in China. … It will take time for us to modify our supply chain and effectively exit China, and the immediate impact of the tariff could have substantial impact on our domestic operations.”

“So what will happen if a tariff is levied on greeting cards? First, the tariff will impair the competitiveness of our entire greeting card line and undermine the stability of key U.S. operations, including manufacturing, creative, and retail jobs. Two, given the industry practice of printing the price on the cards, a tariff will present a pricing fiasco. We simply can’t raise prices.”

Mustafa Ozgen, Roku’s senior vice president and general manager of account acquisition

“These tariffs could have a detrimental impact on Roku and its U.S.-based workforce.”

“We have agreements with our manufacturers that protect our intellectual property, and I can happily report that those business arrangements are working well.”

“Targeting Roku is not going to help U.S. manufacturing but only serve to hurt U.S. innovation.”

Patrick Fox, VF Corp.’s senior director of customs and trade strategy

“Simply put, tariffs cause economic harm to the U.S.”

“Duties reduce the competitiveness of U.S. companies that have evolved their supply chains to deliver high quality products to U.S. customers at competitive prices.”

“We, as a country, don’t have the capacity or, frankly, the desire to create the low-paying manufacturing jobs you would need to replicate China’s capacity.”

Colin Angle, iRobot’s chairman, CEO and founder

“These tariffs will only harm iRobot and help our overseas competitors, which are mainly Chinese companies that primarily market their products in China.”

“Tariffs will undermine iRobot’s ability to maintain American leadership in practical robotics. These tariffs, if imposed, will aid our foreign competitors.

Robert Lauterbach, vice president of sourcing at Ball Corp.

“We operate on thin margins. The effect of a 38 percent tariff on the price of our most important raw material threatens to stifle investment and job growth. The proposed changes to tariffs creates disproportion harm to U.S. individuals, companies, and the communities in which we operate. These tariffs would also result in a substantial loss of high-paying ancillary jobs in transportation, warehousing, service and other industries.”

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