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Wayne Huizenga, Who Built Fortune in Trash, Dies at 80

H. Wayne Huizenga, a college dropout who built a business empire that included Blockbuster Entertainment, AutoNation and three professional sports franchises, has died. He was 80.

Huizenga died Thursday night at his home, said Valerie Hinkell, a longtime assistant. The cause was cancer, said Bob Henninger, executive vice president of Huizenga Holdings.

Starting with a single garbage truck in 1968, Huizenga built Waste Management Inc. into a Fortune 500 company. He purchased independent sanitation engineering companies, and by the time he took the company public in 1972, he had completed the acquisition of 133 small-time haulers. By 1983, Waste Management was the largest waste disposal company in the United States.

The business model worked again with Blockbuster Video, which he started in 1985 and built into the leading movie rental chain nine years later. In 1996, he formed AutoNation and built it into a Fortune 500 company.

Sports team owner

Huizenga was founding owner of baseball’s Florida Marlins and the NHL’s Florida Panthers — expansion teams that played their first games in 1993. He bought the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and their stadium for $168 million in 1994 from the children of founder Joe Robbie but had sold all three teams by 2009.

“Wayne Huizenga was a seminal figure in the cultural history of South Florida,” current Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement. “He completely changed the landscape of the region’s sports scene. … Sports fans throughout the region owe him a debt of thanks.”

The Marlins won the 1997 World Series, and the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, but Huizenga’s beloved Dolphins never reached a Super Bowl while he owned the team.

“If I have one disappointment, the disappointment would be that we did not bring a championship home,” Huizenga said shortly after he sold the Dolphins to Ross. “It’s something we failed to do.”

Fan favorite — for a time

Huizenga earned an almost cultlike following among business investors who watched him build Blockbuster Entertainment into the leading video rental chain by snapping up competitors. He cracked Forbes’ list of the 100 richest Americans, becoming chairman of Republic Services, one of the nation’s top waste management companies, and AutoNation, the nation’s largest automotive retailer. In 2013, Forbes estimated his wealth at $2.5 billion.

For a time, Huizenga was also a favorite with South Florida sports fans, drawing cheers and autograph seekers in public. The crowd roared when he danced the hokey pokey on the field during an early Marlins game. He went on a spending spree to build a veteran team that won the World Series in the franchise’s fifth year.

But his popularity plummeted when he ordered the roster dismantled after that season. He was frustrated by poor attendance and his failure to swing a deal for a new ballpark built with taxpayer money.

Many South Florida fans never forgave him for breaking up the championship team. Huizenga drew boos when introduced at Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino’s retirement celebration in 2000 and kept a lower public profile after that.

In 2009, Huizenga said he regretted ordering the Marlins’ payroll purge.

“We lost $34 million the year we won the World Series, and I just said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to do that,’” Huizenga said. “If I had it to do over again, I’d say, ‘OK, we’ll go one more year.’”

He sold the Marlins in 1999 to John Henry, and sold the Panthers in 2001, unhappy with rising NHL player salaries and the stock price for the team’s public company.

Dolphins man

Huizenga’s first sports love was the Dolphins; he had been a season-ticket holder since their first season in 1966. But he fared better in the NFL as a businessman than as a sports fan.

He turned a nifty profit by selling the Dolphins and their stadium for $1.1 billion, nearly seven times what he paid to become sole owner. But he knew the bottom line in the NFL is championships, and his Dolphins perennially came up short.

Huizenga earned a reputation as a hands-off owner and won raves from many loyal employees, even though he made six coaching changes. He eased Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula into retirement in early 1996, and Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt, interim coach Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron and Tony Sparano followed as coach.

Johnson tweeted: “A great man, one of the nicest individuals I have ever known, Wayne Huizenga passed away. RIP.”

Garbage business

Harry Wayne Huizenga was born in the Chicago suburbs on Dec. 29, 1937, to a family of garbage haulers. He began his business career in Pompano Beach in 1962, driving a garbage truck from 2 a.m. to noon each day for $500 a month.

Huizenga was a five-time recipient of Financial World magazine’s “CEO of the Year” award, and was the Ernst & Young “2005 World Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Regarding his business acumen, Huizenga said: “You just have to be in the right place at the right time. It can only happen in America.”

In 1960, he married Joyce VanderWagon. Together they had two children, Wayne Jr. and Scott. They divorced in 1966. Wayne married his second wife, Marti Goldsby, in 1972. She died in 2017.

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Fearing Trade War, Some US Farmers Worry About Trump Tariffs

Randy Poskin, a soybean farmer in rural Illinois, voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But ask him now he feels about that decision, and you get a tepid response.

“I’m not sure,” Poskin said.

Like many farmers in the Midwest, Poskin is concerned about getting caught in the middle of a trade war, as Trump ramps up economic pressure on China.

Those fears were heightened after Trump announced plans Thursday to impose tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese imports.

“I’m fearful they will retaliate on those tariffs,” Poskin said. “Soybean exports, wheat, poultry, chicken, beef — [there are] any number of products that we export to their country that they could retaliate with.”

The announcement has unnerved many in Trump’s base of supporters in U.S. agriculture. The trade tensions have also rattled global markets, which until recently had performed strongly.

Intellectual property theft

Trump’s tariff decision was meant to punish Chinese companies that benefit from unfair access to U.S. technology.

U.S. businesses have long bristled at Beijing’s requirement that they transfer technology to Chinese companies as a condition of entering the Chinese market. U.S. businesses have also had their technology stolen through cyberattacks.

“We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” Trump said during the signing ceremony Thursday.

Some U.S. companies in China cheered the move and suggested that concerns about a trade war were overblown.

William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, dismissed the “hair on fire” concern that Trump’s proposed moves would hurt the global economy.

“That the U.S. is willing to risk these disruptions indicates how serious the U.S. administration finds China’s forced technology transfer, cybertheft and discriminatory industrial policies,” he said in a statement to VOA.

Zarit pointed to a recent survey suggesting members of his organization wanted the White House to “advocate more strongly for a level playing field and for reciprocal treatment to improve market access” in China.

But it’s not yet clear whether Trump’s words will translate into that kind of action. That’s in part because the president’s move on Thursday did not actually implement tariffs.

Delayed move

Instead, Trump gave the U.S. trade representative 15 days to identify specific Chinese goods that will be subject to the penalties. There will then be a 30-day window for public comment. That means any move is at least 45 days away.

Trump took a similar approach to steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this month. Although the White House initially leaked news that there would be a universal tax on all steel and aluminum imports, at least six countries and the European Union have since received exemptions.

“You have announcements with a lot of big, very aggressive, very dramatic rhetoric, but when it comes time to actually implement the policy, it’s much more toned down, much more in line with historical U.S. trade enforcement policy,” said Geoffrey Gertz of the Brookings Institution.

Such a negotiating tactic often gets Trump the “tough on trade” headlines that he desires, even while reducing the immediate risk of starting a trade war.

But there are still uncertainties. For instance, it still isn’t clear how China will respond to Trump’s protectionist measures.

China’s response

On Friday, China blasted Trump’s move but did little in the way of countermeasures.

“If somebody imposes a trade war on China, we’ll fight to the end,” Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to Washington, said on state TV.

China also released a list of potential tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, including pork, fruit, wine, steel pipes and other products.

“China responded strong verbally but soft in actual countermeasures,” said Allan Von Mehren, a China analyst at the Copenhagen-based Danske Bank.

“This is a very measured reaction, as $3 billion is a drop in the ocean out of the $131 billion the U.S. exports to China every year,” he said.

However, China has signaled it may impose more significant measures should Trump follow through with his tariffs.

Should China retaliate further, a prime target is soybean farmers like Poskin, who are uniquely vulnerable to Chinese retaliation.

One in every three rows of U.S. soybeans is exported to China, according to the American Soybean Association.

That vulnerability is leaving Poskin to wonder whether he did the right thing in supporting Trump.

“I mean, I do like the regulation side of things, the way he’s backing things off,” Poskin said. “But just the same, these areas of trade are very important to agriculture. We can’t interrupt this.”

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Fearing Trade War, Some US Farmers Worry About Trump Tariffs

Randy Poskin, a soybean farmer in rural Illinois, voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But ask him now he feels about that decision, and you get a tepid response.

“I’m not sure,” Poskin said.

Like many farmers in the Midwest, Poskin is concerned about getting caught in the middle of a trade war, as Trump ramps up economic pressure on China.

Those fears were heightened after Trump announced plans Thursday to impose tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese imports.

“I’m fearful they will retaliate on those tariffs,” Poskin said. “Soybean exports, wheat, poultry, chicken, beef — [there are] any number of products that we export to their country that they could retaliate with.”

The announcement has unnerved many in Trump’s base of supporters in U.S. agriculture. The trade tensions have also rattled global markets, which until recently had performed strongly.

Intellectual property theft

Trump’s tariff decision was meant to punish Chinese companies that benefit from unfair access to U.S. technology.

U.S. businesses have long bristled at Beijing’s requirement that they transfer technology to Chinese companies as a condition of entering the Chinese market. U.S. businesses have also had their technology stolen through cyberattacks.

“We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” Trump said during the signing ceremony Thursday.

Some U.S. companies in China cheered the move and suggested that concerns about a trade war were overblown.

William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, dismissed the “hair on fire” concern that Trump’s proposed moves would hurt the global economy.

“That the U.S. is willing to risk these disruptions indicates how serious the U.S. administration finds China’s forced technology transfer, cybertheft and discriminatory industrial policies,” he said in a statement to VOA.

Zarit pointed to a recent survey suggesting members of his organization wanted the White House to “advocate more strongly for a level playing field and for reciprocal treatment to improve market access” in China.

But it’s not yet clear whether Trump’s words will translate into that kind of action. That’s in part because the president’s move on Thursday did not actually implement tariffs.

Delayed move

Instead, Trump gave the U.S. trade representative 15 days to identify specific Chinese goods that will be subject to the penalties. There will then be a 30-day window for public comment. That means any move is at least 45 days away.

Trump took a similar approach to steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this month. Although the White House initially leaked news that there would be a universal tax on all steel and aluminum imports, at least six countries and the European Union have since received exemptions.

“You have announcements with a lot of big, very aggressive, very dramatic rhetoric, but when it comes time to actually implement the policy, it’s much more toned down, much more in line with historical U.S. trade enforcement policy,” said Geoffrey Gertz of the Brookings Institution.

Such a negotiating tactic often gets Trump the “tough on trade” headlines that he desires, even while reducing the immediate risk of starting a trade war.

But there are still uncertainties. For instance, it still isn’t clear how China will respond to Trump’s protectionist measures.

China’s response

On Friday, China blasted Trump’s move but did little in the way of countermeasures.

“If somebody imposes a trade war on China, we’ll fight to the end,” Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to Washington, said on state TV.

China also released a list of potential tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, including pork, fruit, wine, steel pipes and other products.

“China responded strong verbally but soft in actual countermeasures,” said Allan Von Mehren, a China analyst at the Copenhagen-based Danske Bank.

“This is a very measured reaction, as $3 billion is a drop in the ocean out of the $131 billion the U.S. exports to China every year,” he said.

However, China has signaled it may impose more significant measures should Trump follow through with his tariffs.

Should China retaliate further, a prime target is soybean farmers like Poskin, who are uniquely vulnerable to Chinese retaliation.

One in every three rows of U.S. soybeans is exported to China, according to the American Soybean Association.

That vulnerability is leaving Poskin to wonder whether he did the right thing in supporting Trump.

“I mean, I do like the regulation side of things, the way he’s backing things off,” Poskin said. “But just the same, these areas of trade are very important to agriculture. We can’t interrupt this.”

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US Core Capital Goods Orders, Shipments Jump in February

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods rebounded more than expected in February after two straight monthly declines and shipments surged, which could temper expectations of a sharp slowdown in business spending on equipment in the first quarter.

The Commerce Department’s report on Friday could prompt economists to raise their economic growth estimates for the first three months of the year. They were slashed last week after data showed retail sales fell in February for the third month in a row.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday painted an upbeat picture of the economy when it raised interest rates and forecast at least two more increases for 2018.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, jumped 1.8 percent last month. That was the biggest gain in five months and followed a downwardly revised 0.4 percent decrease in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast those orders rising only 0.8 percent in February after a previously reported 0.3 percent decline in January. Core capital goods orders increased 7.4 percent on a year-on-year basis.

Shipments of core capital goods increased 1.4 percent last month, the biggest advance since December 2016, after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in January. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

They were previously reported to have slipped 0.1 percent in January. Business spending on equipment powered ahead in 2017 as companies anticipated a hefty reduction in the corporate income tax rate. The Trump administration slashed that rate to 21 percent from 35 percent effective in January.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday of tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods could start a global trade war.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries were mixed while U.S. stock index futures were largely flat. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies.

Strong business spending

The surge in core capital goods orders in February suggests further gains. There had been concerns spending could slow sharply after double-digit growth in the past quarters.

Investment in equipment is likely to be bolstered by robust business confidence, strengthening global economic growth and a weakening dollar, which is boosting demand for U.S. exports.

That is helping to support manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The strength in core capital goods shipments, together with a surge in industrial production in February, could help offset the impact of soft consumer spending on first-quarter growth.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve is forecasting gross domestic product increasing at a 1.8 percent annualized rate in the first three months of the year.

The government reported last month that the economy grew at a 2.5 percent pace in the fourth quarter. However, revisions to December data on construction spending, factory orders and wholesale inventories have suggested the fourth-quarter growth estimate could be raised to a 3.1 percent pace. The government will publish its third GDP estimate on Wednesday.

Last month, orders for machinery soared 1.6 percent. There were also hefty increases in orders of primary metals and electrical equipment, appliances and components.

Orders for computers and electronic products fell 0.2 percent, with bookings for communications equipment recording their biggest drop since December 2015.

Overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, vaulted 3.1 percent last month as demand for transportation equipment soared 7.1 percent.

That followed a 3.5 percent tumble in January. Orders for motor vehicles and parts increased 1.6 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in January.

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US Core Capital Goods Orders, Shipments Jump in February

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods rebounded more than expected in February after two straight monthly declines and shipments surged, which could temper expectations of a sharp slowdown in business spending on equipment in the first quarter.

The Commerce Department’s report on Friday could prompt economists to raise their economic growth estimates for the first three months of the year. They were slashed last week after data showed retail sales fell in February for the third month in a row.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday painted an upbeat picture of the economy when it raised interest rates and forecast at least two more increases for 2018.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, jumped 1.8 percent last month. That was the biggest gain in five months and followed a downwardly revised 0.4 percent decrease in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast those orders rising only 0.8 percent in February after a previously reported 0.3 percent decline in January. Core capital goods orders increased 7.4 percent on a year-on-year basis.

Shipments of core capital goods increased 1.4 percent last month, the biggest advance since December 2016, after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in January. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

They were previously reported to have slipped 0.1 percent in January. Business spending on equipment powered ahead in 2017 as companies anticipated a hefty reduction in the corporate income tax rate. The Trump administration slashed that rate to 21 percent from 35 percent effective in January.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday of tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods could start a global trade war.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries were mixed while U.S. stock index futures were largely flat. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies.

Strong business spending

The surge in core capital goods orders in February suggests further gains. There had been concerns spending could slow sharply after double-digit growth in the past quarters.

Investment in equipment is likely to be bolstered by robust business confidence, strengthening global economic growth and a weakening dollar, which is boosting demand for U.S. exports.

That is helping to support manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The strength in core capital goods shipments, together with a surge in industrial production in February, could help offset the impact of soft consumer spending on first-quarter growth.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve is forecasting gross domestic product increasing at a 1.8 percent annualized rate in the first three months of the year.

The government reported last month that the economy grew at a 2.5 percent pace in the fourth quarter. However, revisions to December data on construction spending, factory orders and wholesale inventories have suggested the fourth-quarter growth estimate could be raised to a 3.1 percent pace. The government will publish its third GDP estimate on Wednesday.

Last month, orders for machinery soared 1.6 percent. There were also hefty increases in orders of primary metals and electrical equipment, appliances and components.

Orders for computers and electronic products fell 0.2 percent, with bookings for communications equipment recording their biggest drop since December 2015.

Overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, vaulted 3.1 percent last month as demand for transportation equipment soared 7.1 percent.

That followed a 3.5 percent tumble in January. Orders for motor vehicles and parts increased 1.6 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in January.

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Russia Eyes Restrictions on US Imports in Response to Tariffs

Russia will likely prepare a list of restrictions on imported products from the United States in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, Moscow’s trade ministry said on Friday, according to Interfax news agency.

The announcement came after China threatened to retaliate to U.S. President Donald Trump’s measures, stoking fears of a looming global trade war.

“We will prepare our position, submit it to the Economy Ministry and apply to the WTO [the World Trade Organization],” Russia’s Deputy Trade Minister, Viktor Yevtukhov, said, according to Interfax.

“We will probably prepare proposals on the response measures. Restrictions against the American goods. I think that all countries will follow this path,” Yevtukhov added.

The United States has said the tariffs are needed to protect its national security and therefore do not need to be cleared by the WTO. Many trade experts disagree saying they fall under the jurisdiction of the Geneva-based global trade body.

Russian steel and aluminum producers have been playing down the potential impact of the U.S. tariffs. But Russia’s Trade Ministry said there would be an impact.

Russian steel and aluminum producers may lose $2 billion and $1 billion, respectively, from the U.S. tariffs introduction, Yevtukhov said, citing preliminary estimates for the Trade Ministry. It was not clear whether he was referring to annual losses.

China’s commerce ministry said on Friday that the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance the steel and aluminum tariffs, with a list of 128 U.S. products that could be targeted.

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Russia Eyes Restrictions on US Imports in Response to Tariffs

Russia will likely prepare a list of restrictions on imported products from the United States in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, Moscow’s trade ministry said on Friday, according to Interfax news agency.

The announcement came after China threatened to retaliate to U.S. President Donald Trump’s measures, stoking fears of a looming global trade war.

“We will prepare our position, submit it to the Economy Ministry and apply to the WTO [the World Trade Organization],” Russia’s Deputy Trade Minister, Viktor Yevtukhov, said, according to Interfax.

“We will probably prepare proposals on the response measures. Restrictions against the American goods. I think that all countries will follow this path,” Yevtukhov added.

The United States has said the tariffs are needed to protect its national security and therefore do not need to be cleared by the WTO. Many trade experts disagree saying they fall under the jurisdiction of the Geneva-based global trade body.

Russian steel and aluminum producers have been playing down the potential impact of the U.S. tariffs. But Russia’s Trade Ministry said there would be an impact.

Russian steel and aluminum producers may lose $2 billion and $1 billion, respectively, from the U.S. tariffs introduction, Yevtukhov said, citing preliminary estimates for the Trade Ministry. It was not clear whether he was referring to annual losses.

China’s commerce ministry said on Friday that the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance the steel and aluminum tariffs, with a list of 128 U.S. products that could be targeted.

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Toys R Us Founder Charles Lazarus Dies at 94

Just a week after the empire he started announced it is shutting down, Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus died at 94.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder,” the company said Thursday.

No cause of death was given.

Lazarus, a World War II veteran, started Toys R Us in 1948 as a single store in Washington, D.C., selling baby furniture.

At customer requests, he soon expanded his line to include toys and began opening large stores the size of supermarkets, devoted to toys and bicycles.

Toys R Us and its massive selection became a favorite of suburban American families.

Toys R Us opened stores all over the world before Lazarus stepped down as the head of the company in 1994.

In recent years, Toys R Us found itself struggling to compete with other large stores, especially with the onslaught of such online retailers as Amazon.

It declared bankruptcy last year, and announced last week it was shutting down its remaining stores.

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Toys R Us Founder Charles Lazarus Dies at 94

Just a week after the empire he started announced it is shutting down, Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus died at 94.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder,” the company said Thursday.

No cause of death was given.

Lazarus, a World War II veteran, started Toys R Us in 1948 as a single store in Washington, D.C., selling baby furniture.

At customer requests, he soon expanded his line to include toys and began opening large stores the size of supermarkets, devoted to toys and bicycles.

Toys R Us and its massive selection became a favorite of suburban American families.

Toys R Us opened stores all over the world before Lazarus stepped down as the head of the company in 1994.

In recent years, Toys R Us found itself struggling to compete with other large stores, especially with the onslaught of such online retailers as Amazon.

It declared bankruptcy last year, and announced last week it was shutting down its remaining stores.

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Trump Launches Action Toward Imposing Tariffs Against Chinese Imports

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday initiating actions to consider imposing tariffs on a long list of nearly 1,300 Chinese imported products worth about $60 billion.

The move could limit China’s ability to invest in the U.S. technology industry, setting the stage for a possible trade war with Beijing.

The decision to take action is a result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. trade representative to determine whether Beijing’s trade practices may be “unreasonable or discriminatory” and may be “harming American intellectual property rights, innovation or technology development.” After a seven-month investigation, the USTR’s office found the policies were in violation.

At the signing ceremony, Trump said, “We have a tremendous intellectual property theft going on.”

He said the U.S. wants reciprocal trade and tariff deals with China and other countries. “If they charge us, we charge them the same thing,” Trump said at the White House ceremony.

He also blamed the “unfair Chinese trade practices” for the U.S. trade deficit with China, which has reached a record $375 billion on his watch.

Campaign promises

Trump campaigned on promises to bring down America’s massive trade deficit — $566 billion last year — by rewriting trade agreements and cracking down on what he called abusive commercial practices by U.S. trading partners.

The investigation concluded that China “uses foreign ownership restrictions, including joint venture requirements, equity limitations and other investment restrictions to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies to Chinese entities.”

Trade associations representing a wide range of the business community said they largely agreed with criticism of China’s intellectual property practices, but criticized the tariffs as a poor remedy that could ultimately harm U.S. businesses and raise prices for consumers.

Earlier this week, some of the largest American retailers and tech companies, including Walmart and Apple, urged Trump to carefully consider the impact the tariffs would have on consumer prices.

“As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices,” a coalition of more than 40 business groups, led by the Information Technology Industry Council, said Sunday in a letter to the president.

“As the industry closest to consumers, retailers know firsthand how high tariffs will hurt American families,” the letter continued.

The prospect of a trade war sent markets plummeting, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing down 724 points, almost 3 percent, its biggest drop in six weeks.

Global trade conflagration

Bloomberg Economics estimated a global trade conflagration could wipe $470 billion off the world economy by 2020.

As news of the impending announcement spread, China announced it was preparing tariffs of its own on U.S. soybeans, sorghum and live hogs.

“China will not sit idly to see its legitimate rights damaged and must take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its legitimate rights,” the Commerce Ministry in Beijing said in a statement on its website.

The Trump administration has said it is simply taking long overdue action following years of unfair Chinese trading practices that they argue previous administrations have insufficiently countered.

Peter Navarro, Trump’s hawkish top trade adviser, said that the administration had decided on the tariffs in lockstep and that the U.S. had opted to take tariff actions after dialogues with China over the past 15 years failed to change Chinese behavior significantly.

The tariffs will be subject to a 15-day comment period before the U.S. trade representative finalizes the move. Other measures, including new restrictions on Chinese investment in the U.S., will take longer.

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