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April 1, 2022

US apparel industry supports call for transparent China tariffs review

The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) has joined a letter urging the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai for a fully transparent review of the Section 301 tariffs on products from China.

By Hannah Abdulla

The letter from Americans for Free Trade calls for a comprehensive economic assessment of the tariffs’ impact on American businesses, workers, farmers, and consumers and asks the USTR to share its plans for reviewing the tariffs, including timing and opportunities for stakeholder input.

“American importers, including members of our coalition, have been assessed close to US$130bn in tariffs since President Trump first imposed tariffs on products from China nearly four years ago,” the letter reads.

“As you know, List 1 of those tariffs is set to expire in July unless USTR receives a petition for a continuation of the tariffs, which we understand is almost certain to occur. Such a request would trigger a review process under the statute, requiring USTR to examine the effectiveness of the tariffs in achieving their objectives and other actions that could be taken, as well as the effects of such actions on the US economy, including consumers.”

It continues to suggest the USTR should include all four tariff lists in its review.

“A single review for all four tariff lists would create administrative efficiencies for USTR and American companies. It would also permit a more holistic assessment of whether the tariffs achieved their stated objectives and provide a full picture of the impact the tariffs have had to the US economy, as well as American businesses, workers, and consumers. It would also give USTR the opportunity to consider whether the 301 tariffs represent the best path forward considering US companies continue to face many of the same challenges with respect to trade with China today as they did when the tariffs were first imposed.

“Further, it is essential that the review process be fully transparent and include a public comment period and public hearings to ensure that the Administration gives all stakeholders – including stakeholders who pay the tariffs –the opportunity to provide input. A review that does not include the American businesses, workers, farmers, and consumers burdened by the tariffs would be inconsistent with the commitments USTR has made in its Transparency Principles, congressional testimony, and the 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report regarding public outreach, engagement, and transparency.”

Earlier this year, the AAFA urged the USTR to remove punitive tariff costs such as the 301 tariffs on China as the ongoing shipping crisis battered the industry.

The AAFA said ending the tariffs would provide a cash infusion to American businesses to enable them to keep workers, hire new workers, and reign in rising prices. 

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