• The Trump administration has released a wide-ranging list of Chinese goods it proposes be hit with a tariff of 10%, with textiles, handbags and hats among the items included.
  • The US says it is in response to China's retaliatory move to impose tariffs on US goods to the same value.
  • China says the behaviour of the US is "hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself".
Chinas Ministry of Commerce said it is “shocked” by US “irrational behaviour”

China's Ministry of Commerce said it is “shocked” by US' “irrational behaviour”

A group representing US apparel and footwear brands and importers has hit out at the US government's move to up the ante in its trade war with China by slapping tariffs on an additional US$200bn worth of Chinese imports, including textiles and accessories.

The Trump administration yesterday (10 July) released a wide-ranging list of Chinese goods it proposes be hit with tariffs, with textiles, including denim, handbags and hats among the items included. The new list of items to be hit by a 10% tariff is on top of the $34bn worth of Chinese goods upon which the US began imposing tariffs of 25% last week.

In announcing the new list of proposed tariffs yesterday (10 July), US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said it is "an appropriate response" under the authority of Section 301 to obtain the elimination of China's harmful industrial policies, and is in response to China's retaliatory move to impose tariffs on US goods to the same value.

"For over a year, the Trump administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition. We have been very clear and detailed regarding the specific changes China should undertake. Unfortunately, China has not changed its behaviour - behaviour that puts the future of the US economy at risk. Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against US products. There is no justification for such action."

He added: "As in the past, the United States is willing to engage in efforts that could lead to a resolution of our concerns about China's unfair trade practices and to China opening its market to US goods and services. In the meantime, we will remain vigilant in defending the ability of our workers and businesses to compete on a fair and reciprocal basis."

Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of The American and Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) says it is the American consumer being targeted by the Trump administration's decision to escalate tensions with the new tariffs.

"This move by the Trump administration, though expected, will not do anything to help American workers, American consumers, or American businesses," he said in a statement. "By including items such as handbags, hats, and textiles on this additional list of products, the administration has shown that it is not concerned about targeting the American public with its 'Trump Tax'. This will result in inflationary costs throughout the supply chain, ultimately paid for by American consumers."

With more than 84% of US travel goods coming from China, Helfenbein says this will hurt enormously.

"The administration backed us into the corner with several months' worth of tariffs – if this continues, it has the potential to severely impact our apparel, accessory, and footwear community. As an industry, we are already highly taxed and regulated.

"We urge the administration to refocus on resolving the underlying issue with China, rather than finding new and creative ways to tax Americans. If the administration refuses to work on behalf of the American public, Congress must exercise its Article I Section 8 powers to regulate commerce with foreign nations."

Similarly, The National Retail Federation's SVP for government relations, David French, says the new tariffs against China will hit families and workers.

"The latest list of $200bn of products to be subject to tariffs against China doubles down on a reckless strategy that will boomerang back to harm US families and workers. The threat to the US economy is less about a question of 'if' and more about 'when' and 'how bad.'

"The administration has been pursuing tariffs now for months and we still don't know what the endgame is," he adds. "Now is the time to get back to the negotiating table with China while working through a global coalition that shares our concerns. The way things are shaping up, it may be too late, but we hope the administration changes course before we lose the momentum from tax and regulatory reform and return to an era of high prices, job loss and negative growth in our economy."

China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement it is "shocked" by the US' "irrational behaviour".

"The behaviour of the US is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself. In order to safeguard the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people, the Chinese government will, as always, have to make the necessary counter-measures.

"At the same time, we call on the international community to work together to safeguard the rules of free trade and the multilateral trading system and jointly oppose trade hegemonism. At the same time, we will immediately file an additional lawsuit against the US unilateralist behaviour to the World Trade Organization."

Click on the following link to view Timeline – Trump's track record on trade.