US businesses plead to be left off Trump's next China tariff list

Ahead of public hearings Monday, hundreds of US businesses submit comments to US Trade Representative's office.

    Hundreds of US businesses plead with US Trade Representative to exempt their industries from additional tariffs on Chinese goods [File: Jason Lee/Reuters]
    Hundreds of US businesses plead with US Trade Representative to exempt their industries from additional tariffs on Chinese goods [File: Jason Lee/Reuters]

    Hundreds of United States businesses from local bridal shops to multibillion-dollar retailers have submitted comments to the US Trade Representative's office opposing President Donald Trump's plan to slap tariffs on another $300bn of Chinese imports.

    The higher tariffs would affect everything from apparel and footwear to fireworks and mobile phones, and are likely to raise prices for US consumers, the companies warned in submissions ahead of the start of seven days of public hearings on Monday.

    Diane Cheatham, owner of Diane's Formal Affair, an Alabama-based women's boutique, said new tariffs would completely shut down her American suppliers, who will be unable to come up with the funding to cover the additional 25 percent they would need to pay to import their products.

    "I am writing this letter pleading with you to keep our industry out of the next round of tariffs," Cheatham said. "I stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of business owners in this plea. Help us make AMERICA GREAT AGAIN."

    Cheatham's comments were echoed by those from many more US business owners who said the new levies would hurt consumers and cause job losses.

    Spirit of 76, a fireworks company that imports 100 percent of its product from China, said the tariffs would cause significant harm to its business where profit margins are already razor thin.

    It said it would have to raise prices and that the resulting loss in sales would impact hiring and expansion plans.

    Large public companies - many of which saw their share prices battered in May over concerns about how tariff hikes would impact their growth prospects - also warned in broad terms of the trouble an outright trade war would cause.

    "We strongly oppose the imposition of additional tariffs," Ralph Lauren Corp said in a letter addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

    The luxury retailer asked for apparel and footwear to be removed from the tariff list, arguing that a rise in duties will lower sales and lead to US workers losing their jobs.

    Roku Inc, Best Buy and Tommy Hilfiger owner PVH corp are among a number of companies that have asked to testify at the hearings.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency