U.S. businesses have been fighting President Trump’s tariffs behind closed doors, but the continued escalation of what many see as a full-blown trade war prompted more than 80 industry groups to coalesce in opposition to the policy.
Americans for Free Trade joined Farmers for Free Trade, in part because businesses say they never thought the tariff situation would escalate to this extent, according to Reuters.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association also joined the effort, and NMMA legal and government affairs senior vice president Nicole Vasilaros told Reuters that members are laying off workers and seeing costs rise as much as 35 percent.
“A lot of other interest groups thought they wouldn’t go this long or go this deep, but the layering effect [of tariffs] has finally gotten everyone to say ‘enough is enough,’ ” Vasilaros told Reuters.
President Trump has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, mostly industrial machinery and intermediate electronics parts, such as semiconductors.
An additional $200 billion in pending tariffs would extend further into consumer goods, and the threat of an additional $267 billion would basically cover every Chinese export to the United States. China has threatened retaliation, which could include action against U.S. companies operating there.
The coalition is seeking to change the direction in Washington by highlighting stories of businesses, consumers and farmers in the heartland negatively affected by the duties, according to Bloomberg News.
The groups announced the coalition Wednesday with a jointly funded campaign of more than $3 million involving town hall-style events in key congressional districts ahead of the midterm elections, digital advertising and other grassroots outreach to Congress and the administration.
More than 80 coalition members have signed a letter to all members of Congress asking for support in fighting the duties and providing oversight on trade policy matters.
The idea is to amplify the stories of small businesses, consumers and industries hurt by the duties and show the administration that the economic pain from tariffs and retaliation from other countries is not worth any long-term deal Trump hopes to strike, coalition members said.
U.S. business groups have been trying traditional advocacy as well as unusual lobbying approaches to oppose the tariffs, including airing ads on the television program “Fox and Friends,’’ which Trump is known to watch.
The campaign aims to show the damage tariffs are having across the U.S. economy and the “real economic consequences for American families.”
“Our motto right now is, ‘try everything,’ ’’ Vasilaros told Bloomberg.