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Trump tariff, China trade war: Walmart letter

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Walmart green environment product marketing 2.JPGEduardo Munoz/Reuters

  • Walmart sent a letter to the Trump administration about two weeks ago, asking it to reconsider the new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
  • In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the retailer said the immediate impact of the fresh tariffs “will be to raise prices on consumers and tax American business and manufacturers.”
  • The letter did not succeed, with the tariffs announced on Monday.

Walmart, the largest US retailer, is sounding the alarm on President Donald Trump’s trade war, saying it is “very concerned” about the possible impacts the newly announced tariffs will have on American consumers.

In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the company — which employs 2.3 million people worldwide, and 1.5 million in the US alone — said the immediate impact of the fresh tariffs “will be to raise prices on consumers and tax American business and manufacturers,” according to a report from CNN Money.

“As the largest retailer in the United States and a major buyer of U.S. manufactured goods, we are very concerned about the impacts these tariffs would have on our business, our customers, our suppliers and the U.S. economy as a whole,” Walmart wrote, according to a separate report from Reuters.

CNN Money reports that in its letter — sent around two weeks ago — Walmart asked Lighthizer and the Trump administration to reconsider putting tariffs on Chinese-made consumer goods including: Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords, and air conditioners.

The letter did not achieve that goal, with the administration pushing forward earlier this week with the imposition of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, totaling more than 5,000 different products.

“For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies,” Trump said in a statement at the time.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”

He added: “As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself.”

In its letter, Walmart also warned of the numerous ways businesses could deal with the tariffs. It is effectively a choice between increasing prices for customers, or taking a hit to their profits by absorbing the increased costs themselves.

“Either consumers will pay more, suppliers will receive less, retail margins will be lower, or consumers will buy fewer products or forego purchases altogether,” Walmart said.

Here’s a timeline of the US-China trade war so far:

  • March 1: President Donald Trump announces tariffs on all imports of steel and aluminum, including metals from China.
  • March 22: Trump announces plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China announces tariffs in retaliation to the steel and aluminum duties and promises a response to the latest US announcement.
  • April 3: The US trade representative announces a list of Chinese goods subject to the tariffs. There is a mandatory 60-day comment period for industries to ask for exemptions from the tariffs.
  • April 4: China rolls out a list of more than 100 US goods worth roughly $50 billion that are subject to retaliatory tariffs.
  • May 21: After a meeting, the two countries announce the outline of a trade deal to avoid the tariffs.
  • May 29: The White House announces that the tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods will move forward, with the final list of goods released June 15. The move appears to wreck the nascent trade deal.
  • June 15: Trump rolls out the final list of goods subject to new tariffs. Chinese imports worth $34 billion would be subject to the new 25% tariff as of July 6, with another $16 billion worth of imports subject to the tariff at a later date. China retaliates with an equivalent set of tariffs.
  • June 18: Trump threatens a 10% tariff on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
  • July 6: The first tranche of tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods takes effect; China responds in kind.
  • July 10: The US releases an initial list of an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that could be subject to a 10% tariff.
  • August 1: Washington more than doubles the value of its tariff threats against Beijing, announcing plans to increase the size of proposed duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.
  • August 3: China says it will impose tariffs of various rates on another $60 billion worth of US goods if Trump moves forward with his latest threat.
  • August 7: The US announces that the second tranche of tariffs, which will hit $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, will go into effect on August 23.
  • August 23: The US imposes tariffs on another $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing responds with tariffs on $16 billion worth of US goods.
  • September 7: Trump says the tranche of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods is coming “soon” and threatens to impose tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods.
  • September 17: Trump announces 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, saying China has “been unwilling to change its practices.”
  • September 18: China says it has “no choice” but to retaliate to the fresh tariffs “to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.” It announces tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods sent to China.
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