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US Businesses Plead With Trump Over New China Tariffs

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US President Donald Trump

Sherill Mosee, founder of MinkeeBlue, a Philadelphia company that makes travel and work bags, said that her four-year-old business will probably have to suspend operations if the tariffs hit and the administration starts taxing imported Chinese luggage and handbags.

Dell, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Hewlett Packard Enterprise wrote a joint letter to the U.S. Trade Representative seeking an exemption from $200 billion in new tariffs.

If eventually carried out, Trump's latest threat could result in tariffs on all Chinese goods entering the United States, an unprecedented escalation of his trade war with China.

Earlier on Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg Television the administration would evaluate public comments before making decisions on the $200 billion tariff list.

The Trump administration began imposing a series of tariffs on goods from China this summer, but up until now, consumer electronics have been left off the list. "As footwear companies made clear in the letter today, new hidden taxes that touch every single American consumer is simply the wrong approach". Comparatively few applauded the tariffs.

Beijing has warned that it would hit back with duties on $60 billion in American products - a much smaller figure that shows China will not be able to match United States tariffs dollar-for-dollar.

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The new duties will start to hit consumer products directly, including furniture, lighting products, tires, bicycles, and auto seats for babies.

A part of Apple's letter, which was first reported on by Bloomberg, reads, "It is hard to see how tariffs that hurt US companies and USA consumers will advance the Government's objectives with respect to China's technology policies".

In its letter, Apple argued that the way USA trade officials calculate the U.S. trade balance - attributing the entire value of a product to a country like China where final assembly happens - fails to reflect the true value that Apple generates in the United States. But, as the Guardian noted, Trump's tariffs are not working. "Now we've added another $200 billion".

"Our concern with these tariffs is that the USA will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower US growth and competitiveness and higher prices for USA consumers", the company wrote.

Kudlow, who heads the National Economic Council, separately told CNBC that the administration was still talking with China about trade issues but that so far China had not met USA requests. Those talks will continue to go on. "It's just another indication we're not out of the woods yet", she said.

The United States is negotiating with Canada this week to try and finalize a deal to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, an outcome some in the White House say will allow Washington to turn up the heat on Beijing. "However, hope springs eternal".

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