U.S. Extends Hearings Over China Tariffs Amid Trade Truce Talks
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has extended a public hearing on the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods to accommodate everyone who wants to testify, as both governments continue talks on avoiding a trade war.
The hearings, initially set for May 15, will continue on May 16 and May 17 to give about 130 companies and industry groups a chance to share their views about the impact of the planned tariffs, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.
Companies including U.S. Steel Corp., Best Buy Co., and HP Inc., as well as lobby groups such as the National Retail Federation, Consumer Technology Association and National Association of Manufacturers have filed requests to testify at the hearings next week in Washington.
The meetings are part of the process for imposing tariffs on more than 1,300 products the administration identified to punish China for its alleged theft of intellectual property and unfair trade practices. President Donald Trump has also ordered consideration of tariffs on an additional $100 billion of goods from the Asian nation. China’s vow to slap levies on an equal value of U.S. imports has sparked fears of an escalation that could spark a trade war.
China Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington as early as next week for trade discussions, after a trip by a U.S. delegation to Beijing last week failed to reach a deal to resolve outstanding trade concerns.
China is urging the U.S. to withdraw its trade threats and stays firmly opposed to the proposed levies, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday in Beijing.
The U.S. and China remain far apart, according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who was part of the delegation that traveled to Beijing. The government may impose the duties after a public comment period after the hearing ends May 22.
Companies and industry groups are generally supportive of U.S. action to level the playing field on trade and investment with China, though many want the talks to focus on resolving differences rather than the pursuit of tariffs. Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple who met with Trump at the White House last month, has said he wants calm heads to prevail in the U.S.-China dispute. The company’s sprawling production chain is centered in China.
Best Buy has asked to testify at the hearing “on the inefficacy of the proposed tariffs” in reaching U.S. objectives and to urge the USTR to eliminate color flat panel televisions from the list of products targeted for levies, according to its notice posted on the regulations.gov website.
The Consumer Technology Association and National Retail Federation released a study last month estimating that the proposed tariffs and resulting decline in U.S. imports from China would force consumers to pay $711 million more during the next year than they otherwise would for the televisions they continue to buy.
“Overall, the proposed tariffs would raise most Americans’ cost of living, boost inflation, and reverse the economic benefits of President Trump’s tax cuts,” Sage Chandler, vice president for international trade at the Consumer Technology Association, said in a summary of her testimony.
Makers of steel wheels, safes and other products want the U.S. to impose tariffs on goods by their Chinese competitors. They say the separate duties imposed on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year raised their costs but didn’t affect finished goods made in China and sold here -- setting up a potentially damaging Catch-22.
U.S. Steel plans to discuss its support for action “to remedy China’s unfair practices” and to point out that tariffs intended to cover tin- and chromium-coated steel sheet products only include some products in the category and others should be added, according to its request to testify.
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