What Did Trump and Retailers Talk About?
Reading Between the Lines of Post-Meeting Statement
President Donald Trump met yesterday with retail industry leaders yesterday. The press was ushered out after an initial and non-substantive introductory statement by the president.
After the meeting, the president tweeted:
Great listening session with CEO's of the Retail Industry Leaders Association this morning! pic.twitter.com/sy6xJcWfcF
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
And Bill Rhodes, chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and president and CEO of AutoZone, issued a statement, saying, in part:
“Today, we had a positive and productive conversation with President Trump about the important role the retail industry plays in our national economy. We stressed the importance of taking a thoughtful approach to tax reform for both individuals and corporations.”
The last part of the quote, concerning tax reform could hint at the retailers’ position on the border adjustment tax (BAT), which would impose a 20-percent levy on imports and which RILA is vehemently against. That’s not surprising, given that retailers are major importers. (The industry is also the country’s biggest private-sector employer.)
RILA President Sandy Kennedy earlier termed the BAT “harmful,” and went on to say that it would “put American retail jobs at risk and force consumers to pay as much as 20 percent more for family essentials. We are committed to working with Congress to ensure they understand the impact of this proposal and to pursue tax reform that reduces rates and benefits consumers and retailers alike.”
One wonders whether the retailers and Trump covered any other trade issues. Retailers were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But, since Trump withdrew the US from that trade deal, that point must be moot.
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