OPINIONS Washington should stop fooling Americans as anxiety over tariffs mounts


Washington should stop fooling Americans as anxiety over tariffs mounts


19:14, September 04, 2019

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- As a new autumn semester started on Tuesday, students were heading back to school across the United States. Yet this time, their parents were joyless.

(Photo: VCG)

As Washington has placed steep tariffs on billions of U.S. 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 U.S. businesses are bearing the brunt, and that some of the pain has been subsequently passed on to consumers, whose spending drives some 70 percent of the U.S. 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 high-earning households.

A research released mid-August by JPMorgan Chase estimated that if Washington levies tariffs on another 300 billion dollars' worth of Chinese imports, U.S. households could face an additional cost of about 1,000 dollars a year from all U.S. tariffs on China.

The combined tariffs scheduled for Sept. 1, Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 "will cost the average American household 621 dollars a year in new taxes," the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTU) said Thursday.

"When it comes to trade policy, the (Donald) 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 self-destructive tariffs."

An analysis by Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) in August found that with the Sept. 1 tariffs kicking in, the percentage of U.S. 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 Dec. 15.

U.S. 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.

U.S. businesses are also upset. During the week-long public hearings on the "300-billion-dollar 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 United States.

It is high time for trade hardliners in Washington to stop fooling U.S. businesses and consumers and heed their concerns immediately. 

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