Amazon, Toyota, Alcoa and others working to counter Trump's tariff plans
By Jeffrey Dastin and David Shepardson
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - Big companies
in the United States from Amazon.com Inc to Toyota
Motor Corp and Alcoa Corp are working to counter
the effect of the Trump administration's trade policies and to
head off new tariffs.
Companies are attempting to avoid any confrontation with
U.S. President Donald Trump but want to exert as much influence
as they can to dissuade him from tearing up trade agreements or
introducing tariffs on a wide swath of imports.
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer and
cloud-computing company, which could be hurt by tariffs on items
sold through its website and components for its data centers, is
discussing industry-wide advertising campaigns and more
extensive government lobbying, a person familiar with the matter
told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Amazon declined to comment.
Toyota Motor North America, a subsidiary of Japan's Toyota,
which could suffer if Trump follows through on a plan to impose
tariffs on imported vehicles and parts, flew workers to
Washington for a rally this week in front of the U.S. Capitol
while the unit's chief has met key members of Congress in recent
weeks to discuss the potential impact of tariffs.
Executives from General Motors Co, which could be
hurt if Trump pulls the United States out of the North American
Free Trade Agreement or if he imposes auto tariffs, have also
held meetings with the administration and Congress over the last
year to raise its concerns about trade issues. Tariffs would
lead to "a reduced presence at home and abroad," the company
said in June.
The largest U.S. automaker is set to hire Trump's former
deputy director of the National Economic Council and adviser on
international economic affairs. Everett Eissenstat, who left the
White House earlier this month, will head GM's public policy
efforts, according to sources familiar with the matter.
GM told Reuters it had an opening but declined to confirm
the hire. Eissenstat could not be reached for comment.
Those already suffering from the Trump administration's
tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which went into effect in
June, are also pushing for relief in private.
The chief executive of Alcoa told investors on a conference
call this week that the aluminum producer was in "active
discussions" with the Trump administration, the Commerce
Department and members of Congress about the elimination of
tariffs or getting an exception for Canadian aluminum.
Alcoa said this week it will incur as much as $14 million a
month in extra expenses, mainly from tariffs levied on aluminum
imported from Canada, its biggest supplier.
In addition to the steel and aluminum tariffs already
imposed, the Trump administration has threatened 10 percent
tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods which would affect
thousands of imported products from furniture to network
Seattle-based Amazon is concerned such tariffs would hit
shoppers during the crucial holiday shopping season, the person
familiar with the matter said.
Amazon has identified a wide range of items, some of them
high-value, the tariffs would hit and is assessing the potential
impact on its business, the person said.
High among its concerns is an increase in import costs for
components used in data centers or other items that would make
its cloud computing division less competitive, two people
familiar with the matter said. Amazon Web Services is the
company's most profitable unit.
Amazon is not alone in the technology industry with its
worries. "It’s hard to think of many of our companies that don’t
have some risk and exposure as a result of the tariff," said
Dean Garfield, chief executive of the Information Technology
Industry Council, which counts Amazon rivals Microsoft Corp
, Alphabet Inc's Google and others as members.
Lobbying administration officials and members of Congress
can be costly with no guarantee of victory, but some have
Apple Inc won guarantees from the Trump
administration that its lucrative iPhones would ship from China
without being subject to tariffs, the New York Times reported
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin and David Shepardson; Additional
reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Chris Sanders and Bill
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