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Conservative groups urge Trump, Chinese president to stop tariff war

November 14, 2018

Leaders of conservative groups affiliated with billionaire industrialist Charles Koch are urging President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reach an agreement to eliminate tariffs as the leaders prepare to meet at a summit later this month.

The heads of Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners and the LIBRE Initiative said there is “great urgency” to make a deal to end what they called “protectionist trade policies.”

“The continued escalation of tariffs has come at significant cost to the global economy,” they wrote in a letter Wednesday. “It has harmed businesses, farmers, consumers, workers, and families worldwide, inflicting higher costs, lost jobs, and uncertainty.”

The U.S. and China have been locked in an escalating tariff war this year, with Mr. Trump imposing levies on a total of $250 billion worth of products, about half of all Chinese imports into the U.S. Tariffs of 10 percent are scheduled to rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1, and administration officials say they might hit China with even more tariffs in the new year.

China’s economy is experiencing a slowdown. U.S. stock markets also have been slumping since October, declines attributed partly to tensions over trade.

Retaliatory tariffs by China against U.S. agricultural products have reduced American soybean exports by about 90 percent.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration has restarted trade negotiations with Beijing.

“First of all, we are again talking with China and I think that is very, very, very positive,” Mr. Kudlow said Tuesday on CNBC, adding that the talks were happening “at all levels” of government.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin also spoke with his Chinese counterpart last week.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi will meet at the end of this month at the Group of 20 nations summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr. Trump told The Washington Times in a recent interview that he doesn’t expect to announce a trade deal with China at the summit.

The heads of the conservative groups Tim Phillips of AFP, Nathan Nascimento of Freedom Partners and Daniel Garza of the LIBRE Initiative urged Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi to reach an agreement and end “any further collateral damage” from the trade war.

“Both countries should eliminate tariffs, subsidies, quotas, and other barriers to trade that distort markets and erect unnecessary barriers to mutually beneficial commerce and voluntary exchange,” they wrote. “China should work with the United States to further open markets and lower barriers to trade by adopting reasonable measures to end intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, and curtail state-owned enterprises.”

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