US business group says Trump’s China tariffs cost US$1.4 billion/month

Shipping containers stand at the Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal in this aerial photograph taken in Qingdao, China, on Monday, May 7, 2018. China’s overseas shipments exceeded estimates while imports surged, as the global economy continued to support demand. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON: A coalition of US business groups fighting President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs has launched an advertisement aimed at telling voters ahead of the midterm elections that the measures are costing American businesses and consumers US$1.4 billion a month.

The group says that in Michigan, a state with several competitive elections this fall, tariff costs tripled in August from a year earlier, while they more than doubled in places like Texas, Illinois and West Virginia.

The group, which branded itself “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,” crunched tariff payment data by state and nationally and provided the findings exclusively to Reuters.

“These tariffs are taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said the group’s spokesperson Angela Hofmann. “They aren’t paid by other countries. They are paid here at home.”

It is targeting Republican members of Congress in five states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. It has planned a nationwide series of town hall meetings including an event in Pennsylvania on Thursday morning where it will present data showing the state’s businesses paid $45 million more in tariffs in August than a year earlier.

The group is also launching a digital advertisement accusing Trump administration officials of downplaying the cost of tariffs while presenting a long list of items subject to new import taxes.

The business coalition hopes voters will voice opposition to the tariffs to Congress members campaigning in their home states ahead of the November midterm elections.

The group of more than 60 U.S. industry groups launched a coalition in September to take their fight public against billions of dollars worth of tariffs Trump has implemented in an effort to win concessions or in the belief they will create U.S. jobs.

The business coalition includes groups representing some of the nation’s largest companies. Among groups to join are the American Petroleum Institute, which represents major oil companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents chains like Target and Autozone.

Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods worth US$250 billion and has applied tariffs on steel and on foreign aluminium, which raised import and domestic costs. He has threatened tariffs on another US$276 billion in Chinese products, which would touch nearly every imported good.