U.S. Retail CEOs meet with Trump, call meeting productive

U.S. Retail CEOs meet with Trump, call meeting productive

President Trump on February 15, 2017 met with a group of executives from big-name retailers such as Target and Best Buy, as the industry leaders made the case that they believe a Republican plan for tax reform would be detrimental to their businesses — and to the wider economy.

Major retailers have come out swinging against a provision of the tax proposal known as border adjustment, which effectively creates a new tax on imports. Given that goods such as apparel and electronics are largely made overseas, the stores fear their tax bills will soar so high that they will be forced to hike the prices that shoppers see on store shelves.

“We stressed the importance of taking a thoughtful approach to tax reform for both individuals and corporations,” said Bill Rhodes, the chief executive of AutoZone and chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, in a statement released after the meeting. “The retail industry is the nation’s largest private sector employer providing and supporting more than 42 million American jobs. The President understands we support pro-growth policies that we believe will lead to greater domestic investment.”

In opening remarks at the meeting, Trump told the executives “my administration remains very focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth,” and he went on to talk about his plans to slash regulations and overhaul the tax code. And he praised the retail business as “one of the great job producers” in the U.S. economy.

It is not clear whether Trump supports the border adjustment idea that congressional Republicans have put forward. In an earlier interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said it was “too complicated.”

In their efforts to convince Trump not to support this tenet of the tax plan, industry leaders are trying to hammer home the ways that this could indirectly affect consumers. Matt Shay, the chief executive of the National Retail Federation, said on CNBC Wednesday morning that the border adjustment tax would essentially be a “new national sales tax.”


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