A group of 25 major US retail companies, including Walmart, Costco and Best Buy, on Monday urged the Donald Trump administration not to impose sweeping tariffs on Chinese imports.
The package could be applied to more than 100 products, which Trump argued were developed by using trade secrets the Chinese stole from the USA companies or forced them to hand over in exchange for market access.
The trade groups represent companies such as Apple, Alphabet - the parent company of Google - Walmart and Nike.
One source says that the China tariffs may be subject to a public comment period, which would delay their effective date and allow industry groups and companies to lodge objections.
After placing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Mr. Trump is reportedly considering tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods, covering electronics, apparel and footwear and some transportation equipment.
Larry Kudlow, the president's new National Economic Council director, has openly stated his opposition to the prior set of tariffs yet has urged Trump to take a "tough" economic stance on China.
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Sweeping tariffs would provoke retaliation, stifling United States exports and raising costs for USA businesses and consumers, the groups said in their letter to Trump. The tariffs would not need approval from Congress.
USA officials should "work with like-minded partners to address common concerns with China's trade and investment policies", the letter reads.
The business groups said while they had serious concerns about China's approach to trade, unilateral tariffs by the USA would only separate the country from allies, and encourage them to replace the United States business presence in China when Beijing retaliates.
Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which organized Monday's letter, argued that tariffs would eliminate any benefit the recent tax overhaul provided the economy.
"Domestic industry will be able to apply for exclusions through a fair and transparent process run through Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security", said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross 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, J.C. 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. "As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices", the petitioners wrote.