Pushing for a Better Path Forward

Myron Brilliant
Executive Vice President, Head of International Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Biden administration should be bolder on trade and tariff exclusions to provide much-needed relief to businesses.

American businesses from manufacturing and agribusiness to services and technology depend on trade. An estimated 40 million U.S. jobs depend on exports and imports. The foodservice equipment sector is no exception.

Recent years saw considerable disruption in trade as the Trump administration imposed tariffs on nearly $400 billion of imported goods. Tariffs are taxes on imported goods, and they are paid by the importing companies and the American consumers who buy them. Unfortunately, the lion’s share of tariffs imposed in the previous administration remain in force. While the U.S. Chamber appreciates the Biden administration’s efforts to smooth over tariff-related disputes with the European Union, China and others, the tariff bills continue to pile up.

Overall, tariffs on raw materials, equipment, parts and components have significantly impacted the manufacturing and agriculture sectors – often leading to supply chain constraints, higher costs and sourcing challenges. These impacts have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further highlighted the need for the tariffs to be narrowed in scope.

Tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed unwarranted costs on sectors like the food service equipment industry by substantially raising material costs and hiking prices. The United States and the European Union reached a deal in October that would replace the tariffs with tariff-rate quotas (TRQ). It’s not a perfect solution, but it promises some relief from high prices and shortages.

Additionally, the tariffs imposed on goods imported from China over the last several years continue to cause significant economic harm to U.S. businesses, farmers, workers and families. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Section 301 tariffs related to China would cost the average U.S. household nearly $1,300 in 2020 alone.

While the new administration has reopened a tariff exclusion process for select goods, we urge it to be bolder. Issuing broader exclusions would provide immediate relief for American businesses and consumers across a variety of sectors – including the food service equipment industry – that have been disadvantaged by these duties since 2018.

The economic impacts of the tariffs have left the broader economy in a weaker position to absorb any unexpected shocks. While some tariffs may continue to be necessary, leaving excessive duties in place will not serve anyone’s interests, especially those responsible for fueling the economy. The U.S. Chamber and others in the business community will continue to push for a better path forward – and fewer tariffs.