Coalition of American business groups formed to fight tariff-slapping Trump


Coalition of American business groups formed to fight tariff-slapping Trump

KUALA LUMPUR (April 2018): Bloomberg has reported that a coalition of business groups have banded to fight President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs, arguing they will hurt US consumers and the economy.

This only shows even Americans themselves don’t approve of their tariff-slapping president’s trade provocations of the global economy with China.

For the convenient reading of I Love Malaysia China Silk Road followers, we have reproduced the Bloomberg report below together with two news articles published by Global Times newspaper which has more than 21 million likes!

"Trump tariffs spur rare coalition to take stand

Wednesday, 11 Apr 2018
4:26 PM MYT

NEW YORK: A rare coalition of business groups are banding together to fight President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs, arguing they will hurt U.S. consumers and the economy.

Retail, agriculture, technology, manufacturing and other industries say the tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese goods are counterproductive to the goal of holding Beijing accountable for intellectual property theft and other trade practices. The groups are working to keep specific products off the U.S. list and trying collectively to keep levies from being imposed at all.

The message they’re sending?

“This is nuts,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, which hosted a recent meeting of the coalition.

Trump’s surprise request for an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods April 5, two weeks after proposing $50 billion, was “the alarm-bell that woke up every sector of the U.S. economy,” said Hun Quach, vice president of international trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

’Here We Go Again’

The next day, a meeting of the coalition at the NRF in Washington started with “Here we go again,” said French, referring to being buffeted by the second, unexpected round of proposed tariffs. Participants shared information and technical analysis and coordinated group outreach efforts, he said.

The coalition consists of more than 40 trade organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The different industries have come together to argue that the tariffs are the wrong approach, said Jose Castaneda, spokesman for the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook and IBM.

The coalition sent a joint letter to Trump on March 18 opposing the tariffs before they were announced and followed up with the April 6 meeting at the NRF.
”Tariffs become trade wars, and trade wars have no winners,” said Steve Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, in an interview.

Latest Battle

The fight is just the latest battle bringing companies to lobby Washington since Trump became president. Between the corporate efforts against the proposed border-adjusted tax in 2017, renegotiation of Nafta and the new tariffs, Lamar said companies that may have only made one trip to D.C. in the past 10 years have now visited 10 times in the last 15 months. New companies and industries are also entering the fray, he said.

“The existential threats, in general, that have been moving their way through Washington have really gotten a lot more people to focus on Washington as a place they have to pay attention to,” Lamar said.

A total of 34 clients registered lobbyists on issues related to Nafta since the beginning of 2017, compared with none in 2016 -- before Trump took office -- according to filings with Congress. Lobbying reports mentioning Natfa increased from 26 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 427 in the same period last year.

On trade as a general issue, registrations increased by 133 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the number of lobbying reports were up by almost 20 percent in the fourth quarter last year compared with the same period a year earlier.

Trump Unpredictable

One of the challenges for U.S. companies and trade groups is that they’ve never experienced a president as unpredictable as Trump, who doesn’t always follow normal protocol, said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America, a Washington think tank, who has written about lobbying.

Trump “seems to change his mind all the time and only listen to a handful of people right around him,” Drutman said. “So it makes lobbying more difficult.”

It’s still early stages for the coalition, which is considering the next steps its members might take together and individually, Castaneda said. They’re reviewing the more than 1,300 products on the list for proposed tariffs and plan to argue for exclusions during a formal comment period that ends May 11.

Groups are also meeting with the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the National Economic Council in the White House as well as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Representative Kevin Brady and members of the Ways and Means and Finance committees on Capitol Hill, said the NRF’s French.

China’s Retaliation

The industry groups are warning that China’s retaliation with levies on products will ultimately be passed along to shoppers as price increases. That would hurt the U.S. economy, cost jobs and erase benefits from the tax overhaul last year, the groups said.

“The administration is rightly focused on restoring equity and fairness in our trade relationship with China,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber, said in a statement. “However, imposing taxes on products used daily by American consumers and job creators is not the way to achieve those ends.”

The approach is consistent with the campaign the NRF and other groups waged successfully last year to keep a proposed “border-adjusted tax” out of the tax overhaul. The opponents said the BAT would hurt their businesses while increasing prices for U.S. consumers, and their campaign included a parody-style TV ad.

“That’s the type of messaging we thought would resonate the most,” ITIC’s Castaneda said.

Emerge Unscathed

Even industries whose products were largely left off the list are concerned they won’t emerge unscathed, because the tariffs are so far-reaching they’ll impact the entire global supply chain that retailers and other industries rely on to produce and sell goods, AAFA’s Lamar said.

For example, although apparel and footwear products weren’t on the initial list of Chinese items to be subject to the tariffs, in retaliation China slapped higher duties on cotton, which it imports from the U.S. to be processed and manufactured.
“Even though the cotton shirt might not be on the target list the U.S. proposed so far, the cotton shirt is itself made with cotton exports, and that’s on the list that the Chinese put out,” Lamar said.

The United States Council for International Business, which is participating in the coalition, won’t advocate on behalf of individual members, which include Apple Inc., General Electric Inc. and Microsoft Corp., because their interests differ, spokesman Jonathan Huneke said. But the council will make the case that no one wins in a tit-for-tat trade war, he said.

Trade War

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, has said he doesn’t think there will be a trade war as China and the U.S. try to negotiate an agreement that forestalls the tariffs. But Trump has said there could be some short-term “pain.”
“We certainly hope they’re going to negotiate their way out of this, but I wouldn’t put it past either party to go to the mat and impose the tariffs and see what happens next,” Huneke said. - Bloomberg

Arrogance led to erosion of US soft power

By Jin Canrong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/28 23:33:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
As the world's only superpower, the US is internationally acknowledged to play a leadership role in four main fields: technology, military, finance and soft power. Yet a controversial change is taking place as US establishment forces worry about the country's soft power. They think the presidency of Donald Trump has eroded US soft power. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, who first put forward the concept of soft power, wrote an article in Project Syndicate in February about his concerns. He cited the results of multiple polls proving that US' approval ratings and attractiveness are dropping due to Trump's presidency.

US soft power is indeed declining, but this process of decline can't be fully ascribed to Trump. It actually results from a series of US mistakes over domestic and foreign issues after the Cold War that seriously undermined its soft power. In this sense, all US presidents ever since the end of the Cold War, or rather the entire elites of the country, are to blame.

Washington has wronged other countries because it misunderstood its victory in the Cold War. The victory came mainly because the Soviet Union collapsed from internal problems. But US elites took it as a result of their actions and hence became arrogant, considering Russia a defeated nation. This cursed US-Russian relations.

In accordance with the economic "shock therapy" prescribed by the US that led to the privatization of Russian state-owned enterprises, Russian state assets were shared out among the US-led capitalists and Russian oligarchs. Washington also trapped Moscow in terms of security, as shown by the eastward expansion of NATO.

The Arab Spring was presented by Western media as a movement to overthrow secular regimes. During the process many Russian allies in the Middle East and North Africa were uprooted, with only Syria left. Hence Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a harsh stance on Syria issue.

The US made a huge mistake by treating Russia this way. If US elites and strategists had realized that the US won the Cold War because Russia gave up, their attitude would have allowed Russia deeper participation in the international system. Washington would have had much better days than it has now.

The US has also bullied China, playing cards of most-favored nation status, Taiwan, the South China Sea and so on.

Washington has made constant mistakes dealing with Muslims. A majority of US-launched wars after the Cold War targeted Muslims and led to the deaths of leaders of some Muslim countries. As a result, about 1.6 billion Muslims feel themselves being taken lightly or even humiliated by the US. The US also performed poorly in maintaining its relations with allies and other important countries such as those in Africa and Latin America.

US academia attributed the Cold War victory largely to its liberal democracy and continued promotion of neoliberalism after the Cold War. This essentially allows more freedom for elites rather than the public. Consequently, US financial elites got much richer while the general middle class saw no significant rise in income, which led to the widening gap between the rich and the poor and eventually the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008.

The soft power of a country depends on its actual performance. The US' declining soft power is rooted in a multitude of its mistakes, both domestic and international. Trump's election victory was merely an outcome of the decline, not its cause.

Trump's political philosophy, which apparently goes against elites and upholds an "America First" doctrine, populism and nationalism, should have prompted US elites to reflect upon their arrogance and isolation from the masses. Unfortunately they have lost the capacity for self-reflection. In the circumstances, Trump being elected to the White House was not a bad thing. It at least sent a warning to the elites about their poor performance, although it remains unknown where his efforts to boost the economy and adjust US foreign policy are headed. In the final analysis, the waning of US international clout, or soft power, will last a long time. In spite of this, we have to admit that the West as a whole, including the US, still has predominant influence in the international community with a conspicuous absolute advantage. - Global Times

The author is associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

US’ provocation on Taiwan more dangerous than trade frictions: analysts

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/9 20:43:40

Washington's recent provocative moves on Taiwan could endanger China-US relations more severely than trade tariffs if the Trump Administration continues to challenge China's sovereignty over the island, analysts said.

Both China's Foreign Ministry and National Defense Ministry responded on Monday to the US State Department's approval of a request by US companies to sell technology to Taiwan for its submarine program, saying that China has firmly and consistently opposed exchanges between US and Taiwan officials and the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

Last month Trump signed legislation allowing high-level visits between the US and Taiwan, contravening decades-old agreements known as the three joint communiqués that led to the normalization of relations between China and the US under the one-China policy.

"The one-China policy is the political foundation of China-US relations… We urge the US to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three joint communiqués, and stop military exchanges and sale of weapons to Taiwan in an effort to prevent severe damage to Sino-US ties and to the stability of the cross-Straits situation," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, told a daily briefing on Monday.

Trump's pick for his new national security adviser, John Bolton, a hawkish conservative Republican, could visit Taiwan in June to attend the opening of the new American Institute in Taiwan, the Economist reported.

If the visit takes place, Bolton will become the most senior US official to visit Taiwan since China and the US established diplomatic ties in 1979, experts said.

"In 2018, the biggest friction between China and the US so far is on trade, but the Taiwan question could be the most dangerous," Da Wei, director of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations' Institute of American Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

The Taiwan question is highly sensitive, and Beijing will make no compromise. If US President Donald Trump keeps using Taiwan to challenge Beijing, there could be intense confrontations, Da noted.

The US is now playing the Taiwan card as it has figured out that other ways of pressuring or containing China are useless, said Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

The US can no longer scare Beijing militarily or isolate it diplomatically, Jin said, adding that China is capable of imposing tit-for-tat trade limits on the US.

Possibility of serious crisis

"Although Washington has not taken real actions yet, the signals it sent so far have been strong enough. And any further provocations would force China to take tough action," Xu Guangyu, a retired major general of the People's Liberation Army and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Monday.

Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China, noted that China's countermeasures may be similar to those that Beijing used after Washington received Taiwan's then leader Lee Teng-hui's visit in 1995.

After Lee's visit in 1995, Beijing recalled its ambassador from Washington, suspended high ranking official exchanges with the US, and launched massive missile tests in the Straits.

The possibility of a serious crisis in the Taiwan Straits cannot be ruled out, said Xu. "At present, China's is much more powerful and capable than then [1995]. The US should carefully think about the risks before making further provocations."

An Gang, a senior research fellow at the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank, warned that the definitive outcome could be in store if the US continues to break long-established protocol. Perhaps the US might force China to choose to solve the Taiwan question as soon as possible, he said.

Newspaper headline: Provocation over Taiwan riskier: expert
Posted in: DIPLOMACY