Trade groups plead with Trump not to ruin Christmas with tariffs

Mark Niquette

President Donald Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until mid-December to avoid hurting Christmas shopping, but a coalition of more than 150 trade associations is making a last-ditch plea to postpone duties on other goods that take effect Sunday, saying they “come at the worst possible time” and that holiday purchases will still be affected.

The Americans for Free Trade coalition sent a letter, dated Wednesday, to Trump asking him to postpone tariffs of 15% starting Sunday on about $112 billion in Chinese goods including apparel, footwear, televisions and even Christmas decorations. It also seeks to stop the duties that begin Dec. 15.

“Price increases will hit shoppers just as they are making their holiday purchases,” the letter said. “Please protect the holiday season and delay these tariffs.”

Trump bowed to pressure from companies earlier this month and postponed until Dec. 15 duties set to take effect Sunday on toys, phones, laptops and other consumer products among $300 billion in goods targeted for duties “so it won’t be relevant to the Christmas shopping season.”

But the coalition said 92% of apparel products among the $300 billion targeted for tariffs will see duties hit Sunday, as well as almost 70% of home textile products and more than half of footwear. Trump also announced Aug. 23 he was increasing the duty rate on the $300 billion to 15% from 10%, and to 30% from 25% on tariffs already in place on $250 billion of other goods stating Oct. 1 in an escalating trade war.

The trade groups said while they understand Trump’s frustration with China and support efforts to crack down on unfair trade practices, they oppose tariffs announced with little warning and can’t easily or quickly move production out of China as the president suggests. While Trump has said China is paying the tariffs, actually U.S. importers and companies do and the costs are often passed along.

“U.S. consumers are driving the growth of the U.S. economy,” the groups said in their letter. “Let’s ensure consumer confidence remains high and economic prosperity continues for the American families we serve and the American workers we employ every day.

“A tariff delay is the gift you can give American families this holiday season.”