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Tariffs are the talk of the town in D.C.

The U.S. marine industry is facing a 1-2-3 punch from worldwide tariffs on steel and aluminum, anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese aluminum sheets and Section 301 tariffs on nearly 350 marine products. That was the main takeaway at the Trade State of Play: Tariffs, Negotiations & Off-Ramps breakout session at last week’s American Boating Congress.

“The administration’s stance on trade tariffs hasn’t changed much but more members of Congress are becoming more vocal in their opposition,” said Garrett Workman, director, European Affairs, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Workman pointed out that recreational boating exports to Europe are down 23% from a year ago.

“The boating industry got on the retaliatory tariffs list because of our success in exports. But it’s the wrong approach.”

That sentiment was seconded by Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. He said at the ABC session of course people have been complaining about China for years. But tariffs are not the right way to rectify the problems.

“Tariffs are taxes paid by U.S. companies and passed on to American consumers. They are not good. They are not good for the economy.”

Gold said he talks to small business owners regularly who tell him they can’t absorb a 10% hit, let alone anything larger.

He also said in the view of many of these business owners, the costs of the trade tariffs have wiped out any of the gains they received from the Trump tax cut.

Meanwhile, President Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda aimed at rebalancing global trade, has threatened to slap tariffs of up to 25% on an additional list of Chinese imports worth about $300 billion.

But U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that a decision on that won’t come likely for another 30 to 45 days.

That timeline means the next levies could be ready around the time when Trump is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan June 28-29.

“I’m still hopeful we can get back to the table. The two presidents will likely see each other at the end of June,” Mnuchin said.

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