RILA Urges USTR: Abandon Tariff Strategy on Consumer Goods

Blake Harden, vice president, international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), testified today at the United States Trade Representative’s multi-jurisdictional hearing on proposed actions on section 301 investigations concerning digital services taxes.

In her testimony, Harden stressed that the imposition of any additional tariffs on imported goods will further punish American companies, consumers, workers and American families without obtaining the elimination of Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, or the United Kingdom’s digital services taxes.

“Simply put: adding additional financial strain during an ongoing pandemic and economic recession will slow our recovery, harm American businesses’ ability to compete, limit American consumers’ access to key products, and put Americans out of work.

“This does not mean leading retailers do not support the Administration’s goal of addressing digital services taxes that unfairly target or discriminate against U.S. companies. Or that the United States has no recourse to address such discriminatory measures. Our point is this: tariffs on the proposed products will not be effective in obtaining the elimination of our trading partners’ discriminatory tax policies or prevent the proliferation of additional digital services taxes around the globe.

From USTR’s proposed product lists, our members import goods such as cosmetics, perfumes, and shampoos from the United Kingdom; carpets, bed linens, curtains, tiles, kitchen fixtures and bathroom ceramics from Turkey; glassware, footwear, and seafood from Spain; and jewelry, seafood, basmati rice, and furniture from India. We fail to see how the imposition of an additional import tax on these products – which will be paid by Americans – will convince our trading partners to withdraw or reform their digital services taxes. At the same time, imposing these tariffs will severely harm the ability of U.S. retailers to compete globally.

“RILA believes the proliferation of digital services taxes requires a multilateral tax solution, not a unilateral tariff response. To that end, we appreciate the Administration’s demonstrated willingness to address the digital services taxes through multilateral negotiations at the OECD. We believe the OECD is the appropriate forum for achieving a negotiated solution and strongly support the Administration in these efforts.”


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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