January 17, 2019

To Sway Trump on Trade, Businesses Turn to Cable TV

They hope to pressure Mr. Trump at a crucial moment. American companies will have a chance to air their concerns about the proposed tariffs on Chinese goods during three days of hearings that the United States trade representative will hold beginning on Tuesday. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top economic official, is also expected to visit Washington — possibly as early as this week — for more trade talks with top administration officials. And the White House is in the midst of trying to reach a deal with Canada and Mexico to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal that has become integral to many American industries.

In comments at the White House on Friday, Mr. Trump reiterated that Nafta has been a “terrible deal” and said that Canada and Mexico were disappointed to be losing the “golden goose” that has been the United States. Republican lawmakers have said that the framework of a deal needs to be revealed this month if Congress is going to vote on it this year, putting pressure on the administration to either agree to a revised pact or follow through with Mr. Trump’s threat to abandon the 1994 agreement.

Whether an ad campaign can sway Mr. Trump on tariffs remains to be seen, but there is evidence that it has had some impact in the past. A little more than a year ago, retailers took to the airwaves to try to kill a type of broad tax on imported goods, known as the “border adjustment tax,” that Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker and a Wisconsin Republican, was pitching as a centerpiece of the Republican tax plan. The National Retail Federation blanketed television networks with catchy anti-B.A.T. commercials that claimed that the proposed import tax would hit consumers in their wallets.

Eventually, Mr. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress cooled to the idea and it was shelved.

The retail industry hopes to persuade Mr. Trump by once again talking about the impact on consumers’ wallets. The group projects that Mr. Trump’s tariffs could cause the price of Chinese-made televisions to rise nearly 25 percent. It predicts that if China retaliates with punitive measures of its own, thousands of jobs could be lost in states won by Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.

Because so much of the power to make decisions on trade is concentrated in the White House, lobbyists are working to get Mr. Trump’s attention directly rather than by canvassing congressional committees. The six-figure purchase will place the commercial on “Fox Friends,” the Fox News morning show that Mr. Trump watches regularly and often quotes on Twitter. It will also be appear on the comedy show “Roseanne,” which seeks to appeal to Trump voters, and on “Saturday Night Live,” which regularly mocks the president with impersonations by Alec Baldwin.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/business/to-sway-trump-on-trade-businesses-turn-to-cable-tv.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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