President Donald Trump’s looming trade war with China would conveniently avoid harming his own daughter’s clothing business, even as she continues serving in a murky official role at the White House, a recent report by ThinkProgress noted.
“Exempting clothing from the tariffs provides a big break to American clothing companies that hold trademarks in China. One of those clothing companies belongs to the First Daughter of the United States, Ivanka Trump,” ThinkProgress’ Rebekah Entralgo wrote.
Trump first began his administration’s trade dispute with China by calling for 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum last March. Last Tuesday, the administration issued another list of 1,300 Chinese goods worth $50 billion that would be slapped with another 25% tariff. Many of those tariffs are related to “technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation,” according to a briefing document by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The document said that China’s activities in these areas “are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” The tariffs target electronics, aerospace, and machinery products, according to The Washington Post. A list of the goods was created to have “the lowest consumer impact,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer told the Post. “So, clothing and toys were excluded.”
China responded on Wednesday by issuing its own list of $50 billion in U.S. goods that it would slap higher tariffs on, including soybeans and aircraft, which would ultimately hurt Trump’s traditional base, according to some economists and political analysts.
Not to be outdone, Trump threatened on Thursday to add $100 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese goods, a move that hammered the markets and drew criticism even from Republicans, as CNN Money reported.
“President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!” he tweeted.
But absent from these discussions until now was how these measures—in their current form—could end up benefitting the U.S. president’s own daughter, who has drawn criticism for labor conditions at factories supplying her clothing brand.
As ThinkProgress noted:
Her dual role as adviser to the president and private business executive has continuously raised ethical red flags. No one can be entirely sure that public policy by this administration isn’t being driven by business motives, or whether countries may pursue business deals with the Trump family as a means to curry political favor with the administration.
The clearest example of this ethical line-blurring comes from early in the Trump presidency, when Ivanka dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Trump family’s resort in West Palm Beach on the same day China approved three new trademarks for Ivanka’s company.
The article noted that Ivanka used her role at the White House to dodge allegations of labor violations at a Chinese factory that manufactures items for her clothing line. An investigation last year by The Washington Post found that Ivanka’s clothing brand didn’t monitor its supply chain or take steps to protect the laborers who made the line’s dresses and blouses. A spokesperson for Ivanka’s brand said the company failed to address these allegations of worker abuse and exploitation because the company was “newer and smaller.”
The ThinkProgress story also noted:
Over the summer, three Chinese activists were arrested for attempting to expose the labor conditions [at] the factory. The group for which the activists worked, China Labor Watch, issued a report on the factory and alleged that the employees were forced to work 12-hour days, at least six days a week, at a monthly salary of about 2,500 yuan, or $365. The workers had been given no safety training, even though many came into contact with dangerous hot oils and glues regularly.
Curiously, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association, a trade group, Trump’s brand of “MAGAnomics” would actually hurt domestic manufacturers by impacting their ability “to grow Made in USA,” a popular Trump mantra, according to the association’s president, Rick Helfenbein.
Whatever happens, whether high–level talks manage to de–escalate the rhetoric between the U.S. and China, or ultimately, U.S. consumers take a hit, you can be sure the measures won’t hurt the bottom line of the president’s favorite daughter.