Retail Trade Groups Say Dump Chinese Import Tariffs

On March 19, members of the retail industry’s leading trade groups joined in a letter asking President Trump to suspend U.S. tariffs in place on Chinese imports. The tariff suspension would serve as a tool to blunt the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

Making this joint statement were representatives from the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the American Apparel & Footwear Association. The letter noted that America’s trading partners needed to be held accountable for intellectual property theft and other trade violations. However, tariffs and the continuing trade war have taken a great toll, said Rick Helfenbein, the AAFA’s former president and chief executive officer.

“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,” Helfenbein wrote. “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.”

Matthew Shay, the NRF’s president and CEO, forecasted that American consumers might see price increases.

“We agree it’s time to address China’s unfair trade practices, but we have to do so in a way that doesn’t destroy jobs, create uncertainty for businesses and increase every American’s cost of living,” Shay said.

While the Trump administration signed Phase One of the trade agreement between the U.S. and China earlier this year, the Trump administration has held firm on other tariffs.