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  June 20th, 2018 | Written by

Voices Raised in Opposition to Trump’s Section 301 Tariffs

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  • The administration threatened to impose additional taxes if China retaliates against latest Section 301 tariffs.
  • Nothing could slow down the economy more than a race with China to see who can raise taxes more.
  • There's a right way and a wrong way for the US to encourage Chinese IP reforms.

The Trump administration’s announcement last week of Section 301 tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese products is catching fire from critics. The administration also threatened to impose additional taxes if China retaliates.

“If there was anything that could slow down this roaring economy it’s a race with China to see who can raise taxes more,” said Brent Gardner, chief government affairs officer of Americans for Prosperity. “Raising taxes and imposing new barriers in the form of tariffs is like placing a row of speed bumps in front of a Ferrari.”

Scott Lincicome, a senior visiting lecturer at Duke Law School, added that the president is relying on long-unused statutes to impose unilateral tariffs that will harm US families and businesses and strain international relationships. “While Chinese intellectual property policies are indeed problematic,” he said, “there’s a right way and a wrong way for America to encourage Chinese reforms. Punishing American consumers through tariffs is the time-tested wrong way.”

The list of Chinese products subject to the new tariffs included marine engines, navigational equipment, and components, which raised the ire of Thom Dammrich, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “The US recreational boating industry, a $39 billion industry that supports 650,000 American jobs, faces another setback due to the Trump administration’s actions on trade,” he said. Today’s announcement on Section 301 tariffs once again puts our proud, uniquely American-made industry at the mercy of bad trade policies that are piling up on top of each other. Collectively, these tariffs are causing the price of raw materials and marine parts to rise rapidly and stifling US boat exports.”

Boat manufacturers and exporters are already hurting as a result of earlier Section 232 tariffs on all aluminum imports and countervailing and anti-dumping duties on common alloy aluminum sheet, according to Dammrich. The industry is facing retaliation from its largest trading partners, including the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, “making ours the only recreational industry singled out by all three jurisdictions,” he said.

Canada, the EU, and Mexico account for 69 percent of annual US boat exports and the global price of aluminum has already increased by 20 to 30 percent since the administration embarked on these policies.

Another expert inserts a brighter caveat to the discussion. “The Administration is still working on the details, even the timing of new measures remains unclear,” said Dean Pinkert, partner in Hughes Hubbard’s international trade practice and a former commissioner of the US International Trade Commission.  “This gives the United States flexibility as it pursues a negotiated resolution to this dispute.”