WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued statements on Thursday warning that tariffs meant to punish China for its trade practices would hurt American consumers. The retailer groups urged President Trump to refrain from imposing tariffs as a retaliatory measure against China’s predatory trade practices — which include forcing U.S. business to transfer valuable technology to Chinese firms and restricting access to Chinese markets.
“Holding China accountable for refusing to follow global trading rules is important and necessary, but instead, the tariffs proposed by the administration will punish ordinary Americans for China’s violations,” said Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and chief executive officer.
“Middle- and working-class Americans are just starting to see the benefits of tax reform in the form of bigger paychecks and higher wages. Engaging in a trade war will erase those gains and result in higher prices for a wide range of consumer products and basic household goods,” Shay said. “And the tariffs will create uncertainly for retailers and other businesses who are prepared to reinvest savings from the tax cut in capital investments, wage increases, workforce training and new jobs in communities across the country.
“We urge the administration to reconsider and instead work with our trading partners to enforce the rules and advance targeted trade remedies. We will continue engaging with congressional leadership and the administration to advocate for an approach that doesn’t negatively impact American jobs, jeopardize economic growth and increase the cost of living for American families.”
In it’s statement, RILA said it backs the administration’s goal of holding trading partners accountable for violating American intellectual property rights, but sees the proposed tariffs as “a $50 billion tax on consumer goods” to be paid by American consumers.
“Retailers fully support holding our trading partners accountable when there is a proven case of intellectual property theft,” said Hun Quach, vice president of international trade at RILA. ”But the punishment should fit the crime, and more importantly, it should punish the bad actor — China. Taxing American families with widespread tariffs on everyday consumer products clearly misses the mark.”
Earlier this week, more than two dozen retail companies — including Walmart, Costco Wholesale Corp., Dollar Tree Inc. and Target Corp. — sent a letter to Trump urging him to refrain from imposing tariffs on China and alleging that American families would be hurt by such a move.