The proposed list covers around 1,300 separate tariff lines including textile machinery

The proposed list covers around 1,300 separate tariff lines including textile machinery

Groups representing US apparel and footwear brands and retailers have welcomed the decision by the Trump administration to exclude apparel and footwear from proposed new tariffs on products imported from China.

The list of products imported from China that could be subject to additional tariffs was released yesterday (3 April) by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

It is part of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last month to levy tariffs on US$50bn of imports in China. The tariffs are being imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act, as part of an investigation into unfair Chinese technology and intellectual property policies and practices.

While not including apparel and footwear, the proposed list covers around 1,300 separate tariff lines including textile machinery, as well as industries such as aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics, and machinery. The list will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, including a hearing. The USTR says it will then issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

In its statement, the USTR says the list is based on "extensive interagency economic analysis" and would target products that benefit from China's industrial plans while minimising the impact on the US economy. 

"The total value of imports subject to the tariff increase is commensurate with an economic analysis of the harm caused by China's unreasonable technology transfer policies to the US economy, as covered by USTR's Section 301 investigation," the Office said.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) welcomed the exclusion of footwear and apparel from the proposed list, but cautioned on the inclusion of textile machinery.

"We are concerned that the list includes tariffs on machinery used in our domestic manufacturing process," says CEO Rick Helfenbein. "This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA. We will express these concerns with the administration in the coming days, and look forward to working with them on the core concerns of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer in China."

Similarly, the National Retail Federation expressed concern over the inclusion of certain machinery on the tariff list, which CEO Matthew Shay also believes will make American-made products more expensive.

"This entire process creates uncertainty and makes it difficult for retail companies that must rely on complicated global supply chains. Tariffs threaten to hurt consumers, jeopardise job creation and increase the cost of doing business here in the United States. Once again, we urge the administration to work with our trading partners to hold China accountable, advance targeted solutions and recognise the unintended consequences of protectionist trade policies."

The AAFA and the NRF joined with several other organisations last month to send joint letters to the Administration expressing their concerns over the proposed tariffs.

US retailers urge Trump to reconsider China tariffs