The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) have warned that the Trump administration’s decision to impose 10 per cent tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of US imports from China would hurt the American consumer. Prices of imported goods will rise, which will be ultimately paid for by US consumers.
On Tuesday, the office of the US trade representative (USTR) released a fresh list of Chinese goods on which it would like to impose 10 per cent tariffs, amounting to an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The list includes textile raw materials like cotton, synthetic fibres, silk, wool, and yarn and fabric made from these materials.
“For over a year, the Trump administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition… Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against US products. There is no justification for such action,” USTR Robert Lighthizer said while releasing the list.
The latest US action follows China’s retaliatory tariffs after Washington imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, effective July 6, 2018. The new tariffs will be imposed only after a two-month period of public comment on the proposed list is over.
Noting that numerous textile, accessory, and travel goods products are included in the fresh list, AAFA said it will directly impact the apparel and footwear industry in the US and its retail partners.
“This move by the Trump administration, though expected, will not do anything to help American workers, American consumers, or American businesses,” said AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein. “By including items such as handbags, hats, and textiles on this additional list of products, the administration has shown that it is not concerned about targeting the American public with its ‘Trump Tax.’ This will result in inflationary costs throughout the supply chain, ultimately paid for by American consumers.
“With more than 84 percent of U.S. travel goods coming from China, this will hurt enormously. The administration backed us into the corner with several months’ worth of tariffs – if this continues, it has the potential to severely impact our apparel, accessory, and footwear community. As an industry, we are already highly taxed and regulated,” Helfenbein said.
In a sharp reaction, NRF senior vice president for government relations David French, said, “The latest list of $200 billion of products to be subject to tariffs against China doubles down on a reckless strategy that will boomerang back to harm US families and workers. The threat to the US economy is less about a question of ‘if’ and more about ‘when’ and ‘how bad.’ Tariffs on such a broad scope of products make it inconceivable that American consumers will dodge this tax increase as prices of everyday products will be forced to rise. And the retaliation that will follow will destroy thousands of US jobs and hurt farmers, local businesses and entire communities.
Both AAFA and NRF urged the Trump administration to get back to the negotiating table with China while working through a global coalition that shares US concerns. “If the administration refuses to work on behalf of the American public, Congress must exercise its Article I Section 8 powers to regulate commerce with foreign nations,” AAFA said in a statement.