Footwear companies urge Trump to cancel proposed tariffs

Manufacturers including Adidas and Foot Locker warn that the new tariffs would exacerbate economic uncertainty.

    A letter, signed by more than 200 United States companies, warned US President Donald Trump that the new tariffs could drive up prices in other countries that produce footwear, given limited production capacities [Getty Images]
    A letter, signed by more than 200 United States companies, warned US President Donald Trump that the new tariffs could drive up prices in other countries that produce footwear, given limited production capacities [Getty Images]

    More than 200 United States footwear companies on Wednesday urged US President Donald Trump to cancel proposed higher tariffs on Chinese imports that take effect beginning next month, calling them hidden taxes that will jack up consumer prices.

    "Imposing tariffs in September on the majority of all footwear products from China - including nearly every type of leather shoe - will make it impossible for hardworking American individuals and families to escape the harm that comes from these tax increases," the companies wrote in a letter to Trump.

    While tariffs on some Chinese imports will be delayed until December 15, the majority of footwear lines face an added 15 percent tariff on September 1, the letter said. That comes on top of tariffs that already average 11 percent and reach 67 percent on some shoes, the letter noted.

    "This added 15 percent tax will cost US footwear consumers an additional $4bn every year," it said, citing an estimate by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) trade group, which spearheaded the creation of the letter.

    Signed by companies including Adidas and Foot Locker, the letter warned that the new tariffs would exacerbate economic uncertainty and could drive up prices in other countries that produce footwear, given limited production capacities.

    The US Trade Representative's Office on Wednesday reaffirmed Trump's plans to impose an additional five percent tariff on a $300bn list of Chinese imports starting September 1 and December 15. The Trump administration had previously planned to impose a 10 percent tariff on these imports.

    FDRA Chief Executive Matt Priest warned that the higher tariffs would result in job losses across the industry.

    "Brands have already said tariffs will dent job growth and shoe stores are saying it's a job killer," Priest said in a statement. "We hope the president listens to Americans across the country ... and stops this unnecessary trade war."

    The letter also rejected comments from US officials who say China can just devalue its currency to cover the added costs.

    "This is simply not true when it comes to our industry, because import prices are almost always quoted and negotiated in US dollars not RMB (Chinese yuan)," it said. "For RMB devaluation alone to offset the 15 percent tariff increase for some shoes, the currency would have to drop by more than 40 percent."

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency