Over 600 US companies urge Trump to resolve trade dispute with China

Nandita Bose, Reuters

Posted at Jun 14 2019 07:00 AM | Updated as of Jun 14 2019 09:01 AM

FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. Damir Sagolj, Reuters

WASHINGTON - Walmart Inc, Target Corp and more than 600 other companies urged US President Donald Trump in a letter on Thursday to resolve the trade dispute with China, saying tariffs hurt American businesses and consumers.

This letter is the latest of many sent to the Trump administration by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the national campaign against tariffs supported by more than 150 trade groups representing agriculture, manufacturing, retail and tech industries.

But it is significant as US-China trade tensions escalate and comes before a possible meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the June 28-29 G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Trump has said he wants to meet Xi there and will decide on whether to extend tariffs to almost all Chinese imports after that.

With less than 3 weeks to go before talks between Chinese and US leaders, expectations for progress toward ending the trade war are low. Sources have told Reuters there has been little preparation for a meeting even as the health of the world economy is at stake.

"We remain concerned about the escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs," the new letter sent on Thursday said. "Broadly applied tariffs are not an effective tool to change China's unfair trade practices. Tariffs are taxes paid directly by US companies... not China."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walmart, the largest US private sector employer and the world's largest retailer, has said tariffs will increase prices for US consumers.

"Trade overall has been good for Americans, good for consumers ... and I realize it gets criticized at times," Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said last week. He urged the Trump administration focus on how trade helps a broad number of people in the country and "not just those it harms."

Additional 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion in imports, on top of those already levied, would wipe out more than 2 million US jobs, the letter said, citing estimates from international consultancy the Trade Partnership.

They would also add more than $2,000 in costs for the average American family of 4 and reduce the value of US Gross Domestic Product by 1 percent, it said.

"An escalated trade war is not in the country's best interest, and both sides will lose," the letter said.