Concern that President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products could hit apparel, footwear and sports equipment.

SFIA is very concerned about the possible negative impact our industry could face due to the administration’s recent announcement, in which President Trump declared to impose $50 billion in tariffs on products imported to the United States from China. SFIA believes tariffs imposed on footwear, apparel and sports equipment will be extremely harmful to consumers and cause substantial disruption to the retail economy and sports sector. SFIA has expressed its strong opposition to any tariffs on sporting goods categories to the Trump administration and Congress. While sports products have not yet been specifically targeted for tariff increases, they may be under consideration in the future.

Background

President Trump has announced his intention to address the $375 billion goods & services trade deficit with China and their policies regarding intellectual property rights by imposing a wide range of new tariffs on Chinese imports. The administration accused the Chinese government of facilitating theft of intellectual property by often requiring American firms to enter joint ventures with Chinese counterparts and to share proprietary information with those partners. It is estimated that China accounts for a significant portion of the $600 billion a year in stolen U.S. intellectual property.

In response to the President, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) originally proposed a package of $30 billion in tariffs on Telecommunications and Information Technology in early March, but the president requested more tariffs. The new target is $50–60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese products. The SFIA’s concern is that the president will need to expand beyond tech products to reach the higher figure, which could bring footwear, apparel and equipment into consideration.

After the president’s announcement, on March 22, 2018, proposing tariffs on nearly 1,300 products imported to the United States, the USTR has until April 8 to seek public comment and decide on the final list of proposed tariffs. The president also proposed measures to make it more difficult for Chinese companies to invest in or buy U.S. high-tech companies. These new moves follow the March 8 announcement of a 25% tariff on imports of bulk steel and 10% on aluminum.

The Chinese Embassy responded aggressively by stating, “China is not afraid of, and will not recoil from, a trade war. If a trade war were initiated by the U.S., China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests, with all necessary measures.” This raises concern of an escalation of a trade war which could also drag footwear, apparel and sports equipment tariffs into play.

SFIA has joined with other industries in expressing their concern over a possible trade war and encouraged the president to pursue narrowly focused remedies against China.