Trump talks trade with Apple CEO Cook as China dispute looms

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the Republican Party of Iowa Annual Dinner at The Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines Iowa

Hundreds of American retailers and manufacturers are urging President Trump to resolve the trade dispute with China, saying tariffs on Chinese goods will hurt the US economy and consumers.

The U.S. Trade Representative will hold public hearings on the proposed tariffs from Monday.

The economic burden of a trade war between the world's two largest economies will shift to China, rather than the United States, President Donald Trump's top economic advisor said on Thursday.

AFTER raising economic uncertainty and unnerving the financial markets for close to two weeks, U.S. president Donald Trump announced last Friday that he was "indefinitely suspending" his May 30 threat to unilaterally raise tariffs up to 25 per cent on American imports from Mexico as part of an effort to punish it for allegedly failing to end illegal immigration across its border into the United States.

The letter, from the group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, said that while "we agree that our trading partners must abide by global trade rules. we believe this goal can be achieved without taxing Americans".

This letter is the latest of many sent to the Trump administration by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the national campaign against tariffs supported by more than 150 trade groups representing agriculture, manufacturing, retail and tech industries. Investors wait and watch to see how the meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping progresses at the G20 summit.

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But under President Trump the lines that separated trade policy from diplomacy and national security issues seem to have disappeared, with the White House operating under the assumption it can use tariffs as a tool to achieve nearly any worldwide goal, while at the same time justifying its aggressive trade policies, like the decision to block China's Huawei from buying U.S. products, on the basis of national security considerations. The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though many retailers are putting on a fearless face, many have said in recent weeks and months that the new tariffs would force them to raise prices, resulting in higher costs paid by USA consumers for the same items.

U.S. authorities are also preparing to probe the market power of large technology companies, according to sources.

"Trade overall has been good for Americans, good for consumers ... and I realize it gets criticized at times", Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said last week.

"An escalated trade war is not in the country's best interest, and both sides will lose", the letter added.

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