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US retailers urge Trump not to hit China with tariffs


SEVERAL large US retail companies, including Wal-Mart Inc, Target Corp, Best Buy Co Inc and Macy's Inc, on Monday sent President Donald Trump a letter urging him not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China.

The Trump administration is said to be preparing tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecommunications and consumer products in an attempt to force changes in Beijing's intellectual property and investment practices.

Washington could impose more than US$60 billion in tariffs on goods ranging from electronics to apparel, footwear and toys.

"At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America's working families," the letter stated. "Applying any additional broad-based tariff as part of a Section 301 action would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods."

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Section 301 would allow Mr Trump to impose unilateral tariffs on China in response to a conclusion by the US government that the Chinese had violated intellectual property rules. The tariffs would not need approval from Congress.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the letter.

The letter is the latest example of the growing division between the Trump administration and many in the business community over trade policy.

On Sunday, a group of trade associations that represent most of the United States' large businesses sent a letter echoing concerns about the economic ramifications of tariffs. Trade associations publicly pushing back include the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the Information Technology Industry Council.

Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which organised Monday's letter, argued that tariffs would eliminate any benefit the recent tax overhaul provided the economy.

"This is not American industries crying wolf," she said in a statement.

The letter was signed by 24 companies, which also included Abercrombie & Fitch Co, American Eagle Outfitters Inc, Big Lots Inc, Chico's FAS Inc, Columbia Sportswear Co, Costco Wholesale Corp, Dollar Tree Inc, Gap Inc, Havertys Furniture Cos Inc, JC Penney Co Inc, Jo-Ann Stores Llc, Kohl's Corp, Ikea North America Services Llc, Levi Strauss & Co, Qurate Retail Group, Sears Holdings Corp, The Michaels Companies Inc, VF Corp, and Wolverine World Wide Inc.

The letter asked the administration to work with companies to find a solution.

"As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully considers the impact on consumer prices," the letter stated. REUTERS

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