RILA to USTR: Failed Tariff Strategy Shouldn't Be Duplicated

Testimony outlining leading retailer’s concerns

Washington, DC – Today and tomorrow, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Vice President of International Trade Blake Harden is testifying before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as part of the agency’s investigations pursuant to section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 into Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the illegal import and use of timber, and currency valuation.

Harden’s testimony outlines leading retailer’s concerns with any tariffs being imposed on products from Vietnam. According to the testimony:

“American businesses and families have been assessed more than $72 billion in additional tariffs on products since the China 301 tariffs were put into place. These tariffs have resulted in less money in the pockets of American families, a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing, and decreased competitiveness for American businesses vis-à-vis their European and Asian counterparts. The evidence is clear – tariffs on imports have failed to increase domestic sourcing.

“Further, tariffs on goods from Vietnam will harm the ability of U.S. retailers to compete globally. As this Administration considers whether to impose tariffs, our competitors in countries such as the European Union and Canada have lowered their tariffs and removed trade barriers with Vietnam through free trade agreements and trade preference programs.

“Simply put, tariffs are not the answer. Tariffs will not resolve concerns with Vietnam’s timber practices. In fact, it would do greater harm to U.S. economic interests and cause serious disruptions to the American economy.

“It is imperative that USTR conduct this investigation in a fair, thorough, and transparent manner that carefully considers the novel issue before it and all potential implications of any actions taken – including the collateral damage that could be caused to U.S. retailers and American families if tariffs are imposed. This process must not be rushed – to do so risks the credibility of the investigation and its findings and more broadly USTR’s Section 301 authority.”

You can find the final versions of RILA’s testimony for the timber investigation here and testimony for the currency investigation here.


RILA is the US trade association for leading retailers. We convene decision-makers, advocate for the industry, and promote operational excellence and innovation. Our aim is to elevate a dynamic industry by transforming the environment in which retailers operate.

RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

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