The prospect of long-run tariffs on China, an important source of products and a significant market for many American products, has companies scrambling. Mr. Trump, who has presented himself as an ally to business, has discounted their concerns about the trade war.
The president has maintained that if companies like Apple and Harley-Davidson do not like tariffs, they should move their operations back to the United States. Businesses have argued that to compete in a global economy, they must source products from abroad and sell them globally.
“The ancien regime likes to defend what it has,” Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic adviser, said in remarks at the Peterson Institute for International Economics last week, as he accused the Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business group, of “ankle biting.”
“You either want change or you don’t,” Mr. Kudlow said.
Mr. Brilliant, along with many corporate officials testifying this week, said his organization supported Mr. Trump’s goal of addressing China’s unfair trade practices.
“But we’ve also been clearheaded that tariffs are a tax on American consumers, they are hurting American businesses, and are creating a great deal of uncertainty, not just in the bilateral economic relationship but in global economic growth,” he said.
Several officials testified that their companies had moved to China because it was the best and cheapest place to produce goods, and that they had no way to relocate such manufacturing back to the United States.
Mark Corrado, the president of Leading Lady, which makes women’s underwear, dangled a brassiere as he testified before a panel of government officials. “It’s a very difficult garment to make, and it takes a lot of precision to make it as well as they make it in China,” he said, pointing to the lace, the elastic shoulder straps and the metal hooks.