By Wu Yuehe
What does Washington’s imposition on $300 billion worth of more imported Chinese goods mean to the American people?
The possible price hikes of consumer goods, such as mobile phones, laptops, clothing, footwear, toys and gaming equipment will make American enterprises and consumers feel worried because their days will be different.
On June 17, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) kicked off a seven-day hearing, seemingly respecting public opinion. Such hearings have been held several times since the U.S. provoked the trade dispute with China.
However, it seems that tariffs will still be the trend, though they may lead to an increase in commodity prices, impact employment and disrupt corporation supply chains, as stated by industry representatives in their speeches during the hearings and the letters of opposition submitted to the USTR before each hearing.
So far, Washington has slapped 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods.
During this round of hearings, the USTR received more than 2,000 written comments and talked with about 300 company and industry representatives. Some research institutes even testified with analytical data.
Consulting firm Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC. said in a report prepared for the U.S. Consumer Technology Association that if the new tariffs were imposed, American consumers would pay over $8.1 billion more for cell phones and over $8.2 billion more for laptops and tablets.
China accounted for about 75 percent of the total cell phones and over 90 percent of the total laptops and tablets imported into the U.S., according to Trade Partnership Worldwide.
On any alternative location for production such as the U.S. and any alternative supplier, the American small business owners said earnestly that there is no other viable alternative. Some of them even cried worrying about what they are going to face.
Some large American enterprises have written letters to the government, asking the latter to bring the tariffs to an end.
“We urge the U.S. government not to impose tariffs on these products,” Apple Inc. said in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The company said it’s responsible for 2 million jobs in the U.S. and reminded the government that it had pledged to invest $350 billion in the American economy over five years.
The U.S. government’s tariff increase will affect all its products, impact its global competitiveness, and reduce its U.S. economic contribution, Apple said.
The painful truth is that American people are not the one to make decisions. The decision makers, however, disappointed them again and again.
“If there’s a better idea than tariffs I’d like to hear it. I haven’t heard it,” Lighthizer told Senate Finance Committee at a congress hearing.
To justify the trade dispute they provoked, some American politicians said they did so to protect people’s livelihood, but the truth is that they never paid attention to the interests of the American people.
The American consumers have to shoulder the burden of higher spending associated with rising consumer prices, and the companies have to spend more because their global supply chains are disrupted.
The U.S. politicians are waving the tariff stick in an attempt to strengthen their so-called “industrial competitive advantage” without considering public opinion, national conditions, and the international economic order.
Claiming that they want to win the trade war, the American politicians can’t see the truth that they just won’t win at all. The international division of labor is not deliberately designed by any country, but by the laws of the market, in the context of economic globalization.
To gain benefits, one has to be righteous. Dialogue is the only way to resolve economic and trade issues between countries.
If the U.S. insists on escalating the trade war with no consideration of the interests of its own people, China will have to fight with it to the end.
China is resilient and can afford a trade war. If Washington chooses to talk, then it should talk with sincerity. The key for negotiation is to take care of each other’s legitimate concerns. In this regard, the U.S. must put a stop to tariffs imposed on Chinese products. It should also be aware that only mutual benefit and win-win cooperation could win support and confirms to the trend of the times.