NRF Testifies on Tariffs: “Economy Will Suffer”
The National Retail Federation told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during a hearing on May 16 that proposed tariffs on Chinese goods would destroy U.S. jobs, disrupt supply chains and increase prices for U.S. consumers during the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.
“Prices will rise, and the economy will suffer,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in his testimony. “Retailers cannot quickly change suppliers to find alternate sources for goods impacted by the proposed tariffs. It can take years to develop new supply chains that satisfy retailer requirements for volume, reliability, regulatory compliance and vendor codes of conduct.”
“Back-to-school merchandise will be arriving at U.S. ports in the next couple of weeks and holiday merchandise — already on order in most instances — will start to arrive at the end of the summer,” French said. “The sudden imposition of tariffs on any of these goods will likely be passed along to U.S. consumers.
“Instead of tariffs, we urge the administration to focus the strategy on China on concrete initiatives to address the underlying barriers and distortions. This strategy must include clearly defined objectives, direct negotiating mechanisms with the Chinese, targeted deliverables and deadlines with measurable results.”
French said the U.S. should work in coordination with like-minded trading partners to address China’s trade practices through all available mechanisms, including coordinated strategies in bilateral and multilateral forums with China, joint enforcement actions through the WTO and other mechanisms.
A recent study by NRF and the Consumer Technology Association found the tariffs would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $3 billion and destroy 134,000 American jobs. If the tariffs were expanded to another $100 billion of Chinese imports as being considered, a total of 455,000 American jobs would be lost and GDP would decline by $49 billion. Another NRF-CTA study found a television set made in China that costs American consumers $250 today would cost $308 after the tariffs are applied, an increase of 23 percent.
Earlier this week, NRF launched a television ad campaign in which economist and actor Ben Stein recreates a scene from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and explains that tariffs are “B-A-D economics.”