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Retail CEOs talk with Trump

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WASHINGTON — A group of retail executives, including Walgreens Boots Alliance executive chairman and chief executive officer Stefano Pessina, met with President Donald Trump earlier this month to discuss issues related to imports and changes to the tax code.

The meeting was a scheduled event with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

Trump_RILA_retail execs_2-15-17 meeting“The retail industry is very important to the country. It’s supporting millions and millions of jobs, really one of the great job producers — probably almost No. 1, wouldn’t you say, pretty close,” Trump told the executives. “There’s a lot of confidence in our economy right now, a great confidence level. You’ve been seeing that in the stock market, you’ve been seeing that in businesses, and you’ve been seeing that on every chart that’s taken.”

After the event, Trump tweeted, “Great listening session with CEOs of the Retail Industry Leaders Association this morning!”

Besides Pessina, retail executives at the meeting included Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target Corp., as well as Hubert Joly of Best Buy Co., Marvin Ellison of JCPenney Co., Art Peck of Gap Inc., William Rhodes of Autozone Inc., Jill Soltau of Jo-Ann Stores LLC and Gregory Sandfort of Tractor Supply Co.

“Today, we joined other retailers in a productive conversation with President Trump regarding the importance of the retail industry to our nation’s economy,” Walgreens Boots Alliance said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, including the approximately 247,000 people employed in the U.S. by Walgreens. We look forward to working with the president and his administration on the important issues facing our company, employees and our customers.”

Retail executives were enthusiastic about Trump’s stated agenda of job creation, simplification of the tax code and reduced regulatory red tape. They also raised their concerns about a proposed “border adjustment tax,” affecting imported goods but not exported goods. Retailers argue that such a tax would raise prices for American consumers.

The National Retail Federation has estimated that a border adjustment tax could cost American families as much as $1,700 in the first year alone.

“Given the retail industry’s position as America’s largest private sector employer, retailers welcome the opportunity to speak with President Trump about policies that will spur job creation and economic growth here in the United States,” Brian Dodge, senior executive vice president of public affairs for RILA, said in a statement.

RILA’s members include more than 200 retailers, manufacturers and service providers, which combined account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales and over 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers.


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