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Billionaire Koch brothers take on Trump over tariffs

Powerful American billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are funding a multi-million dollar campaign against President Donald Trump’s trade tariff.

Three political groups backed by the brothers say they will use advertising, lobbying and grassroots campaigns to boost the benefits of free trade.

The duo heads Koch Industries, one of the largest private firms in the world.

The move comes a few days after Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada, and Mexico.

The company of Charles and David Koch has interests ranging from pipes to paper towels.

According to the Koch Industries website, “for millions of Americans, the words ‘Koch brothers’ and ‘political activism’ go hand in hand.”

They have previously put money into groups that deny climate change and attack unions and workers’ rights, but they have also pushed for criminal justice reform and made large donations to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Last November, the brothers helped finance the Meredith Corporation deal to buy the US magazine publisher Time Inc., which owns some of the most famous magazine brands in the world, raising concerns that they would use their investment to influence editorial.

The three groups that launched the campaign: the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and the FREE Initiative, urge the president to lift the recent tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, as well as the proposed tariffs for other imports from China.

The president of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, said the rates: “hamstring our full economic potential”.

“There are better ways to negotiate trade deals than by punishing American consumers and businesses with higher costs,” he added.

The campaign indicates the level of concern among business groups, usually Republican supporters, about the impact of tariffs.

Leaders from the EU, Canada, and Mexico criticized the measure and threatened reprisals, sparking fears of a trade war.

Donald Trump has said that steel tariffs will protect American steelmakers, which he says are vital to national security.

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