Wash­ing­ton should stop fool­ing Amer­i­cans as anx­i­ety over tar­iffs mounts

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIE­W - Page Ed­i­tor: yu­jin­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

As a new au­tumn se­mes­ter started on Tues­day, stu­dents were head­ing back to school across the US. Yet this time, their par­ents were joyless.

As Wash­ing­ton has placed steep tar­iffs on bil­lions of US dol­lars’ worth of prod­ucts from China, com­modi­ties rang­ing from text­books and sta­tionery to cloth­ing and footwear – all ne­ces­si­ties for school kids – have be­come more ex­pen­sive.

Re­fut­ing Wash­ing­ton’s repet­i­tive claim that China is foot­ing the bill for the tar­iffs, mul­ti­ple analy­ses showed that US busi­nesses are bear­ing the brunt, and that some of the pain has been sub­se­quently passed onto con­sumers, whose spend­ing drives some 70 per­cent of the US econ­omy.

There­into, low-in­come fam­i­lies suf­fer the most, as their spend­ing on cloth­ing, footwear and other items oc­cu­pies a big­ger por­tion of their to­tal ex­pen­di­ture com­pared to hig­h­earn­ing house­holds.

A re­search re­leased in mi­dau­gust by Jpmor­gan Chase es­ti­mated that if Wash­ing­ton levies tar­iffs on an­other $300 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese im­ports, US house­holds could face an ad­di­tional cost of about $1,000 a year from all US tar­iffs on China.

The com­bined tar­iffs sched­uled for Septem­ber 1, Oc­to­ber 1 and De­cem­ber 15 “will cost the av­er­age Amer­i­can house­hold $621 a year in new taxes,” the Na­tional Tax­pay­ers Union Foun­da­tion (NTU) said on Au­gust 29.

“When it comes to trade pol­icy, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is in a hole that it keeps dig­ging deeper,” said Bryan Ri­ley, direc­tor of NTU’S Free Trade Ini­tia­tive. “The White House should re­move its in­ef­fec­tive and self­de­struc­tive tar­iffs.”

An anal­y­sis by Wash­ing­ton­based Peter­son In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics (PIIE) in Au­gust found that with the Septem­ber 1 tar­iffs kick­ing in, the per­cent­age of US con­sumer goods sub­ject to the levies will rise from 29 per­cent to 69 per­cent. And it will reach 99 per­cent if new ad­di­tional tar­iffs threat­ened by Wash­ing­ton are fully im­ple­mented on De­cem­ber 15.

US con­sumers are acutely aware of the ad­verse sit­u­a­tion their own gov­ern­ment has put them in. The lat­est Con­sumer Sen­ti­ment In­dex re­leased Fri­day by the Univer­sity of Michi­gan reg­is­tered the big­gest monthly de­cline since De­cem­ber 2012, drop­ping 8.6 points from July to 89.8.

Such tar­iffs on China “act to in­crease un­cer­tainty and di­min­ish con­sumer spend­ing at home. Un­like the re­peated tar­iff re­ver­sals, neg­a­tive trends in con­sumer sen­ti­ment can­not be eas­ily re­versed,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the sur­vey.

US busi­nesses are also up­set. Dur­ing the week-long pub­lic hear­ings on the “$300 bil­lion list” of Chi­nese prod­ucts on June 17-25, frus­tra­tion and des­per­a­tion clouded the over 300 busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives who tes­ti­fied be­fore the Congress. Ju­ve­nile prod­ucts ven­dors cried in­fants’ safety will be in jeop­ardy if prices of items like child safety seats be­come un­bear­ably high be­cause of the tar­iffs.

It is crys­tal clear that Wash­ing­ton’s hawk­ish trade pol­icy on China, in­flict­ing pain on its own peo­ple, has aroused more and more re­sent­ment in the US.

It is high time for trade hard­lin­ers in Wash­ing­ton to stop fool­ing US busi­nesses and con­sumers and heed their con­cerns im­me­di­ately. This is a commentary of the Xin­hua News Agency. opin­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

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