Over 80 of the nation’s leading trade associations representing thousands of businesses and workers have announced the formation of Americans for Free Trade, a multi-industry coalition aimed at opposing tariffs and highlighting the benefits of international trade to the U.S. economy. This new coalition will immediately join Farmers for Free Trade, the coalition backed by the nation’s largest ag commodity groups, in a multi-million dollar national campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. The campaign will focus on telling the stories of the American businesses, farmers, workers and families harmed by tariffs through town-hall style events, grassroots outreach to Congress and the administration, social media, rapid response and digital advertising.
The campaign includes a geographically searchable map (TariffsHurt.com) that allows users to find stories of job losses, deferred investments, higher prices and other negative consequences for farmers and businesses in communities across the country impacted by tariffs.
Read a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on this new combined effort that includes a list of many of the trade organizations joining Americans for Free Trade.
“Every sector of the U.S. economy stands to lose in a trade war,” says National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The stakes couldn’t be higher for American families, businesses, farmers and workers threatened by job losses and higher prices as a result of tit-for-tat tariffs. That’s why a diverse coalition of industries is banding together to amplify the voices of hardworking Americans and ensure Washington understands the real-world consequences of a trade war. We are here to stand up for communities across the country, large and small, that are counting on the administration to develop a real strategy, get back to the negotiating table and ease trade tensions.”
“This campaign will show how tariffs are squeezing the average American family and community from every direction,” Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl says. “If you are in Des Moines, IA, or Harrisburg, PA, it’s not just that tariffs are dropping the value of corn, soy or pork. Increasingly it’s that the price of buying a dishwasher has gone up, or that a local business has put off expansion because of the price of steel or aluminum. By joining with leading retailers, manufactures and services organizations, Farmers for Free Trade will play a big role in showing the comprehensive damage the trade war is having on American communities.”
“American jobs are fueled by international trade in seafood,” says National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly. “Without access to seafood imports from important markets like China, or if these products become too expensive, jobs here in the U.S. will pay the price. Once seafood is imported to the U.S., it’s trucked, stored, processed, portioned, value-added, distributed, and sold in grocery stores and restaurants. The seafood supply chain works off of low profit margins, a 10% duty added to commercial seafood items will harm seafood businesses large and small, but a 25% duty will devastate them and ultimately cost jobs here. The industry is unique in that seafood exporters from the U.S. are feeling the pain from the trade war now. Retaliatory tariffs from China targeting U.S. seafood have already caused lay-offs. Seafood jobs are hurt by tariffs coming and going.”
“Tariffs are a tax on American families, period,” says Retail Industry Leaders Association President Sandy Kennedy. “This escalating trade war threatens to tax every aspect of our American lifestyle, from the clothes on our back and the food we eat to the cars we drive and shoes we wear. We welcome the opportunity to work with this wide array of industries to showcase the value that trade provides American families and the real impact that a misguided trade war will have on them.”
“The administration’s ‘tariffs-only’ trade strategy is failing with China,” Information Technology Industry Council President and CEO Dean Garfield says. “Tariffs have had little impact on the Chinese, but are already harming American consumers, workers, and communities. By making it more expensive to sell American products at home and abroad, the administration is eroding this country’s leadership across major industries. This broad coalition is banding together to speak for all of those affected and will work earnestly to ensure that this irresponsible trade war ends before more economic harm is inflicted.”
“The Toy Association remains deeply concerned about the negative impact of toy tariffs on American families, quality jobs in U.S. toy and children’s product companies, and our nation’s retail community,” says The Toy Association President and CEO Steve Pasierb. “The most recent proposed list of goods subject to tariffs would damage consumer spending during the vital holiday shopping season as well as toy companies of all sizes – particularly small businesses; amount to nothing more than a tax on American families and their children; and, lead to projected losses of tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. Trade wars are the wrong approach.”
“The continuous use of tariffs erodes market access for U.S. manufacturers and threatens millions of good-paying jobs – including the 1.3 million equipment manufacturing jobs our industry supports,” says Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater. “This broad coalition represents a significant cross-section of our nation’s economy and speaks volumes to the sort of negative impact these misguided tariffs are making. By joining together we hope to send a message to Washington that we need trade not taxes.”
“Almost every economist agrees that tariffs are bad policy,” Consumer Technology Association (CTA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro says. “The proposed failing tariffs are questionably legal and are holding back small- and medium-sized businesses looking to grow and compete. CTA has heard from hundreds of its members – including the only U.S. producer of CB trucker radios, a growing smart home startup launching a new flagship product and a medtech company on the front lines of the opioid epidemic – and they all agree: tariffs hurt U.S. businesses. We join a diverse group of American industries to tell the White House ‘a trade tax hurts Americans and there are better options.’”
“The Administration’s decision to impose and threaten punitive tariffs on consumer goods purchased by Americans is concerning for our industry, for American workers, and for the U.S. economy as a whole,” American Apparel and Footwear Association President and CEO Rick Helfenbein says. “Prices will go up, sales will go down, jobs will be lost. This is an unnecessary tax that will have real-world consequences. We urge the American consumer to buy their warm winter clothing now, as it’s shaping up to be a long, dreary, and bitter tariff season ahead.”
“Compounding tariffs are hurting far more American industries and jobs than the handful they prop up, and they do not achieve their stated objectives,” National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) President Thom Dammrich says. “Because of the administration’s actions, the recreational boating industry is seeing the price of raw materials and parts rise and exports dwindle. NMMA agrees that more needs to be done to address our trade imbalance, but the current approach is nothing more than a war of attrition that nobody will win. We look forward to working with this coalition and its broad range of supporters to resolve this conflict.”
“Baby products have historically been subject to low tariffs globally, simply because they are essential for parenting and can save lives,” says Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Executive Director Kelly Mariotti. “If this changes, we could see prices increase dramatically on car seats, which are required by law for every single baby and toddler in America, plus other childcare items such as cribs, hygiene products, feeding products, safe sleep products and strollers. This could mean parents and caregivers can no longer afford these essential devices, putting babies and children at risk.”
The campaign will highlight the heartland’s opposition to current and new tariffs through:
- Events in congressional districts across the country that bring together farmers, business owners and factory workers to discuss how tariffs are directly hurting them;
- Paid TV, radio and online advertisements highlighting how tariffs are affecting families, farmers, factory workers and businesses of all sizes;
- A rapid response “war room” that will fact check and respond to tariff announcements;
- Op-eds, blogs and statements from Americans bearing the brunt of tariffs;
- A digital media campaign explaining the economic harm of tariffs to a wide online audience; and
- Direct outreach to key members of Congress on behalf of grassroots voices from across the nation.
The campaign will kick-off with events in Chicago, Nashville, Pennsylvania and Ohio during the month of September. Additional events will take place in September and October in key communities throughout the heartland.