US industry on Wednesday ratcheted up its opposition to President Donald Trump's trade wars, announcing the start of an election-season campaign against tariffs and promising a multi-pronged blitz of events and advertising.

With mid-term elections less than two months away, the campaign also comes as the Trump administration has announced billions in federal aid to assist farmers and others hit by Chinese, European and Canadian counter-tariffs calculated for political effect.

The new group called itself Americans for Free Trade and included more than 80 trade bodies in agriculture, manufacturing, retailing and technology, such as Maine lobster dealers, Texas, Minnesota and Indiana retailers, fashion designers and methanol producers.

Marking the start of a campaign called "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland," they jointly sent a letter denouncing tariffs on Tuesday to outgoing House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"Beginning with the September congressional recess and continuing in the fall, we will be holding events that bring together those Americans whose livelihoods have been impacted by tariffs for public events that highlight the need to de-escalate the trade war," the letter said.

The campaign will involve events in congressional districts, print radio and TV placements, opinion essays, digital media, a "war room" to fact-check claims in response to tariff announcements, the group announced on a new website.

By waging trade battles with all major world economies, Trump has opened an ideological chasm between himself and traditional heavyweight players in his own Republican party.

Lobbying by industries exposed to trade has likewise jumped sharply while companies in various industries have reported layoffs, slumping profits and possible bankruptcies.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the number of organizations employing trade lobbyists nearly tripled in the first six months of the year.

The campaign will involve events in Chicago, Nashville, Tennessee, as well as the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, which contain battleground congressional districts that could tilt the balance of power in the House to Democrats in November.

The campaign joins Farmers for Free Trade, which is already opposing the Trump tariffs, saying they jeopardize US access to agricultural export markets. The Trump administration is conducting delicate negotiations with Ottawa, Brussels and Beijing to address accusations of unfair and imbalanced trade -- but duties on tens of billions of dollars in imports remain in place, with Washington poised to add duties to hundreds of billions in goods from China. (AFP)





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