The Minnesota Retailers Association is among dozens of trade associations across the U.S. that have signed onto the newly-formed Americans for Free Trade, a diverse array of business groups that are opposed to current and contemplated trade tariffs directed by President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday a coalition of 86 trade groups announced the formation of Americans for Free Trade with a letter to members of Congress: “We are a growing coalition representing U.S. manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders, who are united in their concern about the negative impacts that the new tariffs are and will continue to have on U.S. businesses, workers and consumers.”
The newly formed group is joining with another organization, Farmers for Free Trade, to back the “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign, an effort to call attention to the issue. Plans call for holding “town hall”-style events across the country.
“We’ve certainly been watching the tariff conversation closely,” said Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association. “Retailers do import products from various parts of the world…There’s a potentially strong impact on retailers and ultimately consumers.”
MnRA has about 250 member companies that operate approximately 1,200 retail locations within Minnesota. Nustad said that MnRA’s membership is about one-third “mom and pop” stores, one third small regional retailers with multiple locations and one-third large national companies.
Nustad said that MnRA works with the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association on federal issues affecting retailers; both of those groups are part of the new Americans for Free Trade group as well.
Americans for Free Trade is comprised of trade groups, rather than individual companies.
But large locally based companies such as Minneapolis-based Target Corp. and Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc. are members of MnRA.
Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO and chairman, addressed the retailer’s concerns about tariffs on an August 22 earnings call to discuss the company’s second quarter results.
“Like many of you, we've been carefully monitoring recent tariff announcements, and we're aware of the potential for this situation to further escalate,” said Cornell. “As we've said many times, as a guest-focused retailer, we're concerned about tariffs because they would increase prices on everyday products for American families. In addition, a prolonged deterioration in global trade relationships could damage economic growth and vitality in the United States.”