SHANGHAI: American companies in China are being hurt by tariffs in the growing trade war between Washington and Beijing, according to a survey of hundreds of firms, prompting the US business lobbies behind the poll to urge the Trump administration to reconsider its approach.
The United States and China have imposed tariffs on $50 billion of each other’s goods since July as trade frictions between the world’s two biggest economies worsened, despite several rounds of negotiations.
President Donald Trump has criticised China’s record trade surplus with the United States, and has demanded that Beijing cut it immediately, threatening further tariffs on an additional $200bn worth of goods – and possibly more.
The negative impact of the tariffs on US companies has been “clear and far reaching”, according to the joint survey by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published on Thursday.
More than 60 per cent of US companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said tariffs by China on US goods were having an effect on business. Companies reported the tariffs were pressuring profits, reducing demand for their products and driving up production costs.
Roughly three-in-four firms surveyed said duties on an additional $200bn worth of Chinese goods would hurt business further, and close to 70 percent said additional retaliatory Chinese tariffs would be bad for business.
“This survey affirms our concerns: tariffs are already negatively impacting US companies and the imposition of a proposed $200bn tranche will bring a lot more pain,” said Eric Zheng, chairman of AmCham Shanghai.
“If almost a half of American companies anticipate a strong negative impact from the next round of US tariffs, then the US administration will be hurting the companies it should be helping,” he said.
“We support President Trump’s efforts to reset US-China trade relations, address long-standing inequities and level the playing field. But we can do so through means other than blanket tariffs.”
On Wednesday, Larry Kudlow, who heads the White House Economic Council, told Fox Business Network that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had sent an invitation to senior Chinese officials to restart trade talks.
More than 430 companies responded to the survey between August 29 and September 5, which Ken Jarrett, president of AmCham Shanghai, said had been conducted in part to provide AmCham with data for meetings with members of congress later this month.
China may not be able to match future US tariffs dollar for dollar and has warned that it would take other measures.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2018