August 1, 2019 / 7:26 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. retailers blast new China tariffs, say move will raise prices further, hurt jobs

By Andrea Shalal and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s threat to impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1 will hurt consumer purchases, raise prices further and limit hiring, four large retail trade groups warned on Thursday.

Trump on Thursday moved to impose fresh tariffs after U.S. and Chinese negotiators failed to kick-start trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

The National Retail Federation, which counts Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) among its members, called the decision to impose new tariffs a flawed strategy that will hurt American consumers.

“We are disappointed the administration is doubling-down on a flawed tariff strategy that is already slowing U.S. economic growth, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment,” Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a statement.

Another influential trade lobby, The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which counts retailers like Walmart, Target Corp (TGT.N) and Home Depot (HD.N) among its members, said the tariffs will raise prices for everyday items like clothing, toys, home goods and electronics.

“This new 10% tariff is a direct hit on consumer products and family budgets... American families shouldn’t be a pawn in this trade war,” Hun Quach, RILA’s vice president of international trade, said in a statement.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not have an immediate comment on the retailers’ protests.

Other trade groups like the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America said the tariffs could have a chilling effect on hiring.

“President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations,” the group’s president, Matt Priest, said in a statement.

Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, told Reuters the tariffs would be “hugely disruptive.” He noted that while Trump uses tariffs as a negotiating tool, he had made good on previous threats in regard to Chinese imports.

“We’re telling people they should assume the tariffs will take effect on Sept. 1,” he said, adding that the group’s members were shocked and surprised that Trump had not allowed resumed U.S.-China trade talks to proceed before threatening additional tariffs.

The measure will hit U.S. consumers far harder than Chinese manufacturers, who produce 42% of apparel and 69% of footwear purchased in the United States, Lamar said.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, in May said prices for shoppers will rise due to higher tariffs on goods from China. The company said it will seek to ease the pain, in part by trying to obtain products from different countries and working with suppliers.

Reporting by Nandita Bose, Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler

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