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Chiefs at seven large US ports have written to President Trump to express their “deep concern” over the “escalating trade conflict” with China.
Claiming tariffs are creating “irredeemable economic harm”, they note there was a 30% decline in exports to China from Californian ports last year, while exports of wheat – grown across 10 states – have nearly ceased.
“The negative impact to these exporters will be long-lasting, because they cannot easily find new customers outside of China now that existing ones are being lost,” said the signatories to the letter from the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Tacoma, Oakland and the Northwest Seaport Alliance.
They added that they had previously individually submitted many letters, testified before Congress and engaged with the administration.
They wrote: “Our core message in each of these communications has been the same: we support a balanced trading relationship with our global partners but are deeply concerned that the continued imposition of ever-increasing tariffs leads to higher costs on US businesses and consumers and loss of valuable markets without any long-term strategic benefit.”
The letter continues: “Our farmers, ranchers, fishing industry, manufacturers and retailers are already deeply harmed by the tariffs and retaliation to date, and spreading and increasing the impact will make that problem worse.”
The ports spelled out what they referred to as a “stark” impact.
“In California, export declines to China are seen in soybeans (-96.9%), grains (-85.5%), glass (-86.5%) and rubber (-74.9%). Similarly, the Northwest Seaport Alliance and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exports have declined, including potatoes (-16.85%), hay (-49.93%), skins and hides (-47.89%), salmon (-47.71%), cherries (-54.56%) and fresh crab (-63.34%).”
The letter comes as President Trump sharply criticised China in a speech at the UN ahead of a new round of talks next month. Earlier this month, the two countries agreed to delay some tariffs for two weeks.
A study by the National Foundation for American Policy found that imposing all the threatened tariffs on top of those existing would cost the US economy $77.9bn, or $2,031 per household per year.
You can read the ports’ letter here.