Trade

Thousands of Companies Sue Over Trump’s Tariffs

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

If Trump is defeated in November, his trade war will end as soon as it's logistically and administratively possible to end it. His unilateral tariffs on foreign goods and retaliatory tariffs on American goods will end.

But that may not necessarily be the end of the story. We could all end up paying for Trump's trade war even when it's over.

Over 3,500 companies and corporations have filed lawsuits against Trump's tariffs in the past few weeks alone because, in their legal opinion, the statutory authority to impose them has now expired and Trump has taken no action to formally reimpose or remove them. Other complainants say Trump imposed tariffs without following proper procedure in the first place.

From the Financial Times:

Coca-Cola, Disney and Ford are among the many large multinational corporations to launch legal proceedings, while US-based Abbott Laboratories, a leading manufacturer of coronavirus tests, has also filed a complaint. [...]

The wave of cases comes as the timeframe under which companies can appeal against two of the four tranches of the US administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports under Section 301 laws, announced and implemented in late September 2018, expires.

While the companies have filed separate complaints and are represented by various law firms, many of the filings echo the arguments made by the lead complainant, vinyl tile manufacturer HMTX Industries.

The company argues that while the US government was entitled to apply tariffs on Chinese imports up to 12 months after producing its report outlining what it said were intellectual property rights violations by the Chinese government, two of the later rounds of tariffs fell outside of this time limit.

If these companies are successful in court, the United States Treasury will be forced to compensate them for the amount they paid in tariffs and, given our proximity to the election -- and the fact that these cases may not be decided for a long time -- it could mean the Biden administration has to pay for Trump's trade war.

The hypothetical Biden administration may fight this in court as a formality, but I don't think they should. What better way to put our best foot forward than to pay back from Trump stole?

Unfortunately, there's no mechanism for giving back what average American consumers paid in higher prices because of Trump's stealth taxes, but another round of stimulus checks would actually cover the cost for the average household.

That so many companies are now openly challenging Trump tells me they smell blood in the water. They're no longer concerned that challenging him will damage their business because Trump is roughly as popular as an STD.

  • Draxiar

    “Trump is roughly as popular as an STD”

    And not as charming.

  • muselet

    If—and it’s a big if—management at those 3500 companies is even remotely competent, they will drop their lawsuits as soon as that hypothetical Biden administration withdraws the Trump Tariffs. They will (rightly) expect something in return, like expanded assistance for marketing and promotion in overseas markets, but they will avoid blaring Company X Sues US for Billions headlines (and won’t tank the economy once and for all).

    If management isn’t competent, well, this will get very ugly and very expensive for all.

    “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” –Donald Trump

    That quote will never stop being both funny and dispiriting in equal measures.

    –alopecia