The American Apparel and Footwear Association, CFDA protest Trump tariffs on China

President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war on China is facing protest from The American Apparel and Footwear Association and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, along with a slew of fashion and footwear brands. 


CFDA

On June 17, a letter organized by the AAFA, CFDA and the Accessories Council was sent to President Trump, detailing opposition to the use of tariffs in the trade dispute with China. The letter was co-authored by nearly 200 executives representing 138 small, medium, and large companies in the fashion industry.

“All companies in our industry – designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, exporters, and importers – will be harmed by this action,” the letter said. “Make no mistake, these new tariffs will mean higher prices for U.S. consumers, lower U.S. apparel and footwear sales, and lost jobs for American workers in the U.S. apparel and footwear industry.”

The letter also addressed what the AAFA called a disproportionate tariff burden placed on the industry. According to the organization, the U.S. apparel and footwear industry paid more than $18 billion in tariffs in 2018, a number that represents 40% of all tariffs collected by the U.S. government, despite only accounting for 6% of all U.S. imports.

Signatories of the letter included representatives from Rebecca Minkoff, Brandon Maxwell, Global Brands Group, Tapestry, Ralph Lauren and Eileen Fisher, among others.

The same day as the AAFA’s letter and subsequent testimony against the tariffs, several other U.S. companies told a hearing in Washington that they have few alternatives other than China for producing clothing, electronics and other consumer goods.

The Trump administration continues to pile new tariffs on China as the U.S. government pushes for wide-ranging economic and trade reforms from Beijing. The latest wave of tariffs would add 25% to the import cost of several categories of consumer items. While previous rounds of tariffs focused on imports sold to manufacturers rather consumers, future tariff extensions to nearly all Chinese imports would create a more direct impact on consumers.

“Any tariff on these consumer goods – that are used by every American – will end up hurting U.S. consumers, in addition to the companies and workers who support them,” said AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein. “We expect prices to go up, sales to go down, and jobs to be lost.”

The AAFA will organize industry leaders again in Washington from March 3 through 5 of 2020, when it plans to hold its next AAFA Executive Summit at the Conrad Washington, D.C.

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