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Citing Tariffs, Lawmakers Express Concern Over Consumer Technology Prices

 

Washington –Congressmen Erik Paulsen (MN-03) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) are leading a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week to voice concerns over the impact of proposed tariffs on consumer electronic prices paid by U.S. consumers.  In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the lawmakers cite their concerns that the Administration’s tariff proposal would hike prices on a range of consumer technology products. The letter was signed by 34 members of both parties.

“It has been widely reported that actual or potential tariffs are already causing pain for U.S. agricultural exports, including pork, soybeans, corn and beef. Furthermore, we are equally worried that the imposition of these tariffs on everyday consumer products would amount to a de facto tax increase that disproportionately affects middle class and low-income American consumers,”the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers cited specific products that may cost more for U.S. consumers as a result of the tariffs.

“According to a recent study done for the Consumer Technology Association and the National Retail Federation, increasing current U.S. tariffs on televisions by 25% would cost U.S. consumers $711 million in the first year alone; for ink and cartridges, U.S. consumers would pay an additional $529 million; and costs would also significantly increase for U.S. consumers of computer monitors (by $172 million) and batteries (by $24 million).”

“We believe you have many tools at your disposal to achieve our shared objections. In particular, we urge you to work as closely as possible with our allies who share our concerns about China’s unfair trade practices, and have begun to address these practices more directly thanks to U.S. leadership. We should avoid creating disincentives for our allies to join us in taking strong action, which higher tariffs could do. The most effective approach is for the international, not the United States alone, to stand up to China’s unfair trade practices,”the lawmakers concluded.

A signed copy of theletter is available here. The full text is available below.

 

May 30, 2018

 

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

We appreciate your commitment to addressing unfair trade practices by the Government of China, however we urge you to do everything possible to address these problems without closing markets, imposing tariffs, or enacting other government regulations that, might harm large numbers of U.S. workers, consumers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.

 

It is clear that China's policies regarding intellectual property and forced technology transfers have been a source of grave concern for many years, and it is time for a strong response from the United States.   

 

The challenge, of course, is how best to engage with China in order to secure desired changes in the policies.  We do not believe that the current cycle of threatened tariffs between the United States and China will secure optimal results, and are concerned that there will be significant unintended adverse consequences to the United States.  Indeed, even the mere threat of tariffs can diminish U.S. economic growth, competitiveness, and exports.  

 

We appreciated your March 21st comments before the House Ways & Means Committee assuring that the Administration’s approach under Section 301 would be to “maximize the pain on China and minimize the pain on U.S. consumers.”  However, we are already hearing from our constituents that they could be facing higher costs, reduced production, disruptions in supply chains and lost sales.   

 

It has been widely reported that actual or potential increased tariffs are already causing pain for U.S. agricultural exports, including pork, soybeans, corn and beef.  Furthermore, we are equally worried that the imposition of these tariffs on everyday consumer products wound amount to a de facto tax increase that disproportionately affects middle class and low-income American consumers.  

 

According to a recent study done for the Consumer Technology Association and the National Retail Federation, increasing current U.S. tariffs on televisions by 25% would cost U.S. consumers $711 million in the first year alone; for ink and cartridges, U.S. consumers would pay an additional $529 million; and costs would also significantly increase for U.S. consumers of computer monitors (by $172 million) and batteries (by $24 million).  

 

We believe you have many tools at your disposal to achieve our shared objectives.  In particular, we urge you to work as closely as possible with our allies who share our concerns about China’s unfair trade practices, and have begun to address these practices more directly thanks to US leadership.  We should avoid creating disincentives for our allies to join us in taking strong action, which higher tariffs could do.  The most effective approach is for the international community, and not the United States alone, to stand up to China's unfair trade practices.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Erik Paulsen                                                     Suzan DelBene

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Barbara Comstock                                            David Schweikert

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  ____________________

Mike Bishop                                                     Lynn Jenkins, CPA

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Darin LaHood                                                   Tom Emmer

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Andy Biggs                                                       Ryan A. Costello

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Mike Coffman                                                  Rod Blum

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Anna G. Eshoo                                     Dave Reichert

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Jackie Walorski                                     Mimi Walters

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Adrian Smith                                                    Ann Wagner

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Roger W. Marshall, M.D.                                  Karen Handel

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Derek Kilmer                                                    Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Gregory W. Meeks                                            James A. Himes

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Scott Peters                                                       Carlos Curbelo

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Ron Kind                                                          Peter J. Roskam

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Cathy McMorris Rodgers                                   Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

_____________________                                  _____________________

Ron Estes                                                         Ami Bera

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

 

 

_____________________                                  ____________________

Leonard Lance                                      Fred Upton

Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress