US semiconductor firms reeling from Trump's trade war, industry chief says

But the US-China Business Council is telling its members to brace for the worst this summer after talks between the two sides broke down earlier this month, said Erin Ennis, a vice president at the business group, during the same discussion. Ennis, a former US trade official, criticized Trump's use of tariffs to try to force concessions from Beijing. "What we have here is a strategy where we have made a dramatic point of putting a tariff on a lot of imports, and potentially every import, for zero gain," Ennis said. She argued the Obama administration was more successful in getting Beijing to address long-standing concerns by using a two-pronged negotiating strategy: talks with Japan and 10 other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and direct negotiations with China on a bilateral investment treaty. "The last time we saw movement on some of the structural issues that we're talking about was when TPP was under negotiation and China was very concerned about what was going to happen with this massive trading bloc on its border," Ennis said. "Then TPP went away, and well, nothing else happened in China," she added, referring to Trump's decision to withdraw from TPP on his third day in office. Ennis said she was skeptical that piling tariffs on Chinese-made consumer goods would be effective in pressuring China to reach a deal with the United States. "China has already let it be known that they are very willing to subsidize their way out of this, and they have done that successfully in the past," Ennis said. "I think we are facing diminishing returns."