U.S. Businesses, Farmers Warn Increase In Tariffs Will Hurt Them And Consumers

May 10, 2019

President Donald Trump boosted tariffs Friday on Chinese imports from 10 to 25 percent. As trade talks continue, U.S. businesses warn the increase will hurt them and consumers.

A coalition of retailers and farmers says Indiana could lose up to 15,000 jobs if the additional tariffs go into effect for one to three years. Laura Baughman is president of the Trade Partnership economic think tank. She says businesses will have to act to protect their bottom lines.

“We’re at that point where all of the companies that have spoken previously to me are, they just can’t absorb anymore, they just can’t put of firing people anymore,” says Baughman.

In return, China promises to retaliate with increased tariffs on U.S. businesses. West central Indiana soybean farmer Brent Bible says his farm is already operating at a loss this year and can’t afford for the trade dispute to continue much longer.

“In a general sense, we probably – our specific operation – we could probably survive two to three years operating at the level of loss that we’re projecting, and then it just wouldn’t be viable any longer,” says Bible.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave money to farmers to alleviate some of the financial strain. But it said at the time that it was a one-time offer.

David French is the National Retail Federation senior vice president of government relations. He urges the Trump administration to look at alternative trade negotiation strategies than tariffs.

“Instead of taxing Americans as a negotiating tactic, we would like to see the administration working with our allies to help put more pressure on China,” says French. “We worry that doubling down on this strategy based solely on tariffs, will undermine the negotiations and only hurt the U.S. economy.”

Higher tariffs would increase prices on products including luggage, electronics and infant cribs.

This story has been updated.