Koch Network at odds with Trump’s trade tactics

The Koch Network, backed by conservative businessmen and billionaires Charles and David Koch, is pushing back on the Trump administration’s trading tactics, as the White House hits stalemates in negotiations with a number of key trading partners.

Three groups linked to the influential Republican donors – Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE Initiative – announced on Monday they are launching a campaign to push for free trade. The Koch Network will spend millions of dollars over several years on the campaign, which will stress that tariffs essentially act as taxes on consumers considering they eventually lead to higher prices.

The groups have expressed opposition to tariffs implemented by the administration throughout recent months.

The Koch brothers, chief influencers within the Republican Party, were a major part of the conservative push behind the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the president signed into law in December. The three groups, in different statements released on Monday, said tariffs would reduce the economic benefits of tax reform.

The announcement comes after U.S. trade negotiations with China appeared to have stalled over the weekend. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross left discussions in Beijing on Sunday making no public announcements. Meanwhile, China warned that if the Trump administration follows through with plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports, it would go back on a promise to buy more American goods. Each side has threatened tariffs on as much as $150 billion worth of one another’s goods.

Last week, the U.S. also imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on key U.S. allies – the European Union, Mexico and Canada. All three have said they will retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods.

Trump called out Mexico, China and Canada on Twitter Monday, for imposing “big trade barriers against U.S. farmers, and other businesses” as well as the “massive” trade deficits the U.S. has with them.