Today, some of the largest brands in retail sent a letter to President Trump outlining their concerns about the detrimental impact broadly applied tariffs could have on American families. The Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Retail Federation and their membership fought long and hard to help pass tax reform. The industry is concerned that any benefits from reform for retailers and families will be wiped out by broadly applied tariffs on every day consumer products.
The White House indicated they would consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act as part of their investigation into unfair Chinese technology and intellectual property policies and practices. Under section 301, the President has unilateral and discretionary action to retaliate against China. The retaliation package could include widespread tariffs on consumer goods, like electronics, apparel, footwear, and home goods. America’s retailers joined together to ask the President to consider the impact to working families before taking action.
“We support holding our trading partners accountable and using targeted trade remedies against intellectual property theft, illegal dumping or subsidies, and other proven trade violations,” the signers said.
“At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families…applying any additional broad-based tariff would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods. As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices. We must do right by American families while also addressing harmful technology practices.”
Sandy Kennedy, president of RILA, stated that imposed tariffs could set the industry back.
“This is not American industries crying wolf. Higher tariffs will mean higher costs to businesses and in turn higher prices for American families. After a major tax reform victory, widespread tariffs on everyday consumer goods will wipe out much of the benefits realized by the average American household. We must do right by American families, and make sure they are not the ones who will pay for China’s harmful technology practices.”
“Tariffs are a hidden tax on Americans – plain and simple. More than 41 percent of clothing, 72 percent of footwear, and 84 percent of travel goods sold in the U.S. are made in China. A tariff on these products would be a tax on every American. In addition to increasing costs for American families, this action could result in retaliatory tariffs that target American businesses, resulting in job losses. At the end of the day, this could be disastrous for American families, American workers, and American businesses,” said Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO of AAFA.
“As the industry closest to consumers, retailers know firsthand how high tariffs will hurt American families. If the administration’s latest proposal goes into effect, Americans will see price increases on a wide range of basic products they purchase regularly at their local stores. We agree it’s time to address China’s unfair trade practices, but we can do so in a way that doesn’t destroy jobs, create uncertainty for businesses and increase every American’s cost of living,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
To read a full copy of the letter click here.
RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. 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.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, retailers, and manufacturers — AAFA is the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its nearly four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of $384 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA provides exclusive expertise in supply chain management, trade policy, and brand protection, to help our members navigate the complex regulatory environment and lower costs. Members gain unparalleled access to information and exclusive insights on regulation and policy, and premier opportunities for networking and collaboration.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.