The American outdoor, sport and lifestyle footwear and clothing industries have expressed their opposition to the tariffs proposed on Chinese manufactured goods by the Trump administration. They testified at the public hearings conducted by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on the effect of the proposed $200-bn in tariffs due to be imposed at the end of the month on products that include fishing-related products, sports equipment, clothing and footwear.

The outdoor industry generates more than $887-bn in consumer spending and accounts for 7.6-m American jobs, Rich Harper, manager of international trade for the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) told the hearings.

There are no commercially significant US producers who will benefit from the proposed tariffs on most products, but, if a tariff of 25% is imposed, many small or medium-sized US companies could go out of business, while the tariff could also place an additional burden on consumers as costs will rise, he added. This will have the adverse effect of US outdoor companies not being able to create new US jobs – and in some cases, jobs may be lost – and many popular products may be discontinued if they become too expensive.

“While outdoor companies are actively looking to diversify their sourcing options, China continues to dominate the market with its advantage of infrastructure and skilled workforce,” Harper explained.

The US industry members are “taxing ourselves and taking money out of our own pocket,” Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), told the hearings. He testified as the US introduced an additional 25% tax on $16-bn worth of products made in China – to which China responded with a 25% tax on US goods.

American retailers implored the USTR to reject further tariffs, as it would hurt American consumers, but not make any changes to China’s trade practices.

The Port of Los Angeles, America’s busiest harbour, reported that as much as a quarter of the cargo it handles could be impacted by the proposed new tariffs.

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