Date
21 September 2018
More than 60 percent of US companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said tariffs by China on US goods were having an effect on business. Photo: Reuters
More than 60 percent of US companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said tariffs by China on US goods were having an effect on business. Photo: Reuters

US firms in China feeling adverse impact of trade war: survey

American companies in China are being hurt by tariffs in the growing trade war between Washington and Beijing, according to a survey of hundreds of firms, prompting the US business lobbies behind the poll to urge the Trump administration to reconsider its approach, Reuters reports.

The United States and China have imposed tariffs on US$50 billion of each other’s goods since July as trade frictions between the world’s two biggest economies worsened, despite several rounds of negotiations.

President Donald Trump has criticized China’s record trade surplus with the US, and has demanded that Beijing cut it immediately, threatening further tariffs on an additional US$200 million worth of goods – and possibly more.

The negative impact of the tariffs on US companies has been “clear and far reaching”, according to the joint survey by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published on Thursday.

More than 60 percent of US companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said tariffs by China on US goods were having an effect on business.

Companies reported the tariffs were pressuring profits, reducing demand for their products and driving up production costs.

Roughly three in four firms surveyed said duties on an additional US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods would hurt business further, and close to 70 percent said additional retaliatory Chinese tariffs would be bad for business.

“This survey affirms our concerns: tariffs are already negatively impacting US companies and the imposition of a proposed US$200 billion tranche will bring a lot more pain,” said Eric Zheng, chairman of AmCham Shanghai.

“If almost a half of American companies anticipate a strong negative impact from the next round of US tariffs, then the US administration will be hurting the companies it should be helping,” he said.

“We support President Trump’s efforts to reset US-China trade relations, address long-standing inequities and level the playing field. But we can do so through means other than blanket tariffs.”

On Wednesday, Larry Kudlow, who heads the White House Economic Council, told Fox Business Network that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had sent an invitation to senior Chinese officials to restart trade talks.

More than 430 companies responded to the survey between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, which Ken Jarrett, president of AmCham Shanghai, said had been conducted in part to provide AmCham with data for meetings with members of congress later this month.

China may not be able to match future US tariffs dollar for dollar and has warned that it would take other measures.

More than 52 percent of respondents to the survey reported already suffering the consequences of such measures, mainly through increased inspections, slower customs clearance and “other complications from increased bureaucratic oversight or regulatory scrutiny”.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies that responded have not relocated nor were they considering moving manufacturing facilities away from China. But of those that were, the top destinations were Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Only 6 percent said they were considering relocation back to the US, the survey said.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of companies said they were considering delaying or canceling investments, underscoring the heightened uncertainty created by the trade tensions.

About 30 percent said they were adjusting supply chains by seeking to source components and/or assembly outside the US, and about the same number were seeking to source components and/or assembly outside China. 

On Wednesday, more than 60 US industry groups launched a coalition – Americans for Free Trade – to take the fight against the tariffs public.

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CG

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