Trump's tariffs 'cost businesses $A3.8b'

The White House says a final agreement depends on Trump and China's Xi Jinping meeting in person.
The White House says a final agreement depends on Trump and China's Xi Jinping meeting in person.

US businesses paid an additional $US2.7 billion ($A3.8 billion) in tariffs in November 2018, according to data from a coalition of US business groups fighting President Donald Trump's trade tariffs.

The group, which brands itself "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" and includes the Americans for Free Trade coalition and Farmers for Free Trade, crunches tariff payment data nationally and by state.

The data is part of a monthly series called the Tariff Tracker, which the group releases in a tie-up with The Trade Partnership, a Washington-based international trade and economic consulting firm.

The monthly import data, it said, is calculated using numbers from the US Census Bureau, and the monthly export data is compiled using numbers from the Census Bureau and the US Department of Agriculture.

The November numbers are the latest government ones available due to the recent US government shutdown.

The group's spokesman, former Republican congressman Charles Boustany, said the data shows that Americans, not foreign competitors, are the big losers in the trade war.

"US businesses are being hit by a double whammy of historic tax increases in the form of tariffs and declining exports as farmers and manufacturers lose opportunities in the overseas markets they rely on," Boustany said.

The group also said retaliatory tariffs have severely impacted US exports. In November, US exports of products subject to retaliatory tariffs declined by $US4.1 billion ($A5.8 billion), or 37 per cent, from the previous year, it said.

Hun Quach, vice president of international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said raising tariffs on thousands of consumer products will cause massive disruption to retailers in an already uncertain environment.

US tariffs on $US200 billion ($A281 billion) worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 per cent from 10 per cent if the two sides cannot reach a deal by a March 1 deadline. On Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters in Beijing that talks between the two sides were going well.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that Trump is weighing different possibilities on how to treat the March 1 deadline to reach a trade deal with China, adding that the final agreement depends on Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting in person.

The United States would escalate tariffs on Chinese goods if the deadline is missed, and likely prompt China to retaliate.

Australian Associated Press