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Koch-funded groups launch broad campaign to oppose tariffs

July 5, 2018 GMT

Groups connected to Republican donors Charles and David Koch announced a multiyear, seven-figure campaign Monday to promote the benefits of trade and opposition to tariffs, in the wake of the Trump administration’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE Initiative said their multimillion-dollar initiative will include paid media, grass-roots mobilization, lobbying, and educational efforts intended to “transform the way Washington and the rest of the country consider and value trade with other nations.”

Freedom Partners Executive Vice President James Davis said trade “is a major priority for our network.”

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“We will work aggressively to educate policymakers and others about the facts,” he said. “Trade lifts people out of poverty and improves lives. It is critical to America’s future prosperity and our consumers, workers and companies. Tariffs and other trade barriers make us poorer. They raise prices for those who can least afford it.”

The move pits the billionaire Koch brothers against the administration on a key economic issue in a midterm election year and beyond. President Trump last week moved forward with steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, saying they have engaged in unfair trade practices.

The G7 nations issued a statement from the finance leaders of Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and Germany conveying their “unanimous concern and disappointment” about the steel and aluminum tariffs. Mr. Trump will attend the G-7 summit in Quebec, Canada, beginning on Friday.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said the administration “has taken some incredibly positive steps for the American economy, but tariffs will undercut that progress and needlessly hamstring our full economic potential.”

“There are better ways to negotiate trade deals than by punishing American consumers and businesses with higher costs,” he said. “Instead of pursuing protectionist policies that we already know don’t work, let’s help everyone win by expanding trade, opening new markets and lowering costs.”