Xi, Trump Talk As US Firms Oppose Increase In Tariffs

Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, yesterday at the latter’s request.


Trump said he looks forward to meeting Xi again during the upcoming Group of 20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka later this month, and conducting in-depth discussions on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.


Xi said he stands ready to meet Trump in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues concerning the development of China-US relations.


The Chinese leader also stressed that the two sides should solve their trade problems through talks on an equal footing.


Mounting opposition to proposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods was voiced by US companies at the first of what will be a series of hearings held by the Office of the US Trade Representative in Washington. The tariffs would be up to 25 percent on US$300 billion of goods.


US industrial associations and companies, including the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Qualcomm and Intel told the hearing that they have few alternatives other than China for producing clothing, electronics and other consumer goods.


Dozens of witnesses were reported as saying sourcing from other countries will raise costs, while moving operations to Vietnam and other countries would not be feasible for years due to a lack of skills and infrastructure in those locations.


Brent Cleaveland, executive director of the US Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, said that the industries, which moved production to China in the 1980s to provide greater value to the domestic market, have relied heavily on Chinese imports.


“There is a real fear that the tariffs would result in employees losing their jobs and American businesses closing their doors,” Cleaveland said.


Kerry Stackpole, CEO and executive director of Plumbing Manufacturers International, said on the sidelines of the hearing that previous tariffs have already increased the cost of buying a home in the United States by about US$9,000.


He added that every thousand-dollar increase will disqualify about 127,000 families from being able to buy one.


The White House has been using tariffs to address what it has claimed are China’s unfair trade practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.


But many witnesses said there is no high-end technology in their businesses.


Marc Schneider of US fashion house Kenneth Cole Productions said the manufacturing process involves few, if any, trade secrets, technologies or intellectual property that are forcibly shared.


The hearings will continue for six days, during which hundreds of witnesses are expected to make similar pleas.


Source: Xinhua