‘Just get it fixed’: Big business plans all-out blitz on Washington to end Trump’s trade war

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese officials are meeting this week with just a month to go before U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports are slated to more than double to 25 per cent.Mandel Ngan/AFP

Corporate America is taking the gloves off in its campaign to end President Trump’s trade war.

A coalition of more than 200 trade associations spanning agriculture, manufacturing, retail, technology, oil and even liquor will begin a new two-pronged attack next week to try to end the policies they see as damaging. The campaign, called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, will involve blanketing Capitol Hill with farmers and other business owners, plus debuting an ad aimed at parents that essentially says the trade war might be endangering babies.

The escalation comes at a crucial time: The president and Chinese officials are meeting this week with just a month to go before U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports are slated to more than double to 25 per cent. It also marks a shift in strategy. After a year of struggling to directly sway Trump and his inner circle, including running ads on Fox News — his favourite cable channel — corporate lobbyists are ratcheting up pressure outside the White House.

“People have to think through different strategies because the normal operating procedure doesn’t work,” said Matt Priest, chief executive officer of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, which is part of the wider coalition. “Some of that strategy is paying off, but the response isn’t the response we would’ve liked.”

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