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Business groups press Trump to postpone new China tariffs

Trump sends mixed signals on China

A coalition of more than 150 business group representing a wide swath of industries is urging President Donald Trump to postpone U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports scheduled to take effect later this year until at least 2020, warning that the levies will damage the economy.

The measures "come at the worst possible time, right in the middle of the busy holiday shipping period," said the Americans for Free Trade Coalition, formed in September by the country's biggest trade associations, in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump and White House trade officials. The group is also behind the "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" campaign.

The call for a delay in the tariffs comes just as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative officially disclosed that they're set to take effect. Starting September 1, U.S. tariffs on about half of $300 billion in Chinese imports will be taxed at 15%, with additional levies set to kick in on the other half on Dec. 15. Tariffs will also be raised on October 1 to 30%, from 25%, on an existing round of tariffs already in effect on $250 billion in Chinese goods.

Mr. Trump hiked the tariffs last week after China raised duties on $75 billion in U.S. goods amid an escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies. 

The business groups said it also opposes China's tariffs on American products. But "subjecting U.S. companies, the workers they employ, and the consumers they serve to new and unprecedented taxes takes us further away from the deal you are working to craft," they told Mr. Trump.

Trump raises tariffs on Chinese imports

Rising trade tensions come amid signs that U.S. economic growth is slowing, including declining corporate profits, a dip in job-creation and evidence that consumer confidence may be wavering. A recent CBS News poll shows American consumers are worried about how the tariffs will affect them, and economists are concerned the trade sanctions will weigh on global growth.

U.S. companies pay tariffs, not China as Mr. Trump has erroneously claimed. The U.S. economy is roughly 70% driven by consumers. The sharply higher tariffs on Chinese goods are set to raise prices for consumers on everything from phones and video consoles to apparel and shoes.

Mr. Trump had already delayed roughly half the tariffs on the $300 billion in Chines goods to Dec. 15 in deference to the holiday season. "U.S. consumers are driving the growth of the U.S. economy," the letter said. "A tariff delay is the gift you can give American families this holiday season."

The letter also addressed Mr. Trump's directive that U.S. companies to stop doing business in China, calling it "not a solution" and "unrealistic."

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