• The US this week announced a planned imposition of 25% duties on a wide-range of Chinese manufactured goods – among them textile machinery.
  • In retaliation, China has said it will impose 25% duties on imports into China of American-produced cotton.
China has threatened to impose 25% duties on US cotton imports

China has threatened to impose 25% duties on US cotton imports

The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) has raised significant concerns about the risk of 25% duties being imposed on imports into China of American-produced cotton, as the latest trade row between Washington and Beijing ramps up.

Stung by the announcement of the US's planned imposition of 25% duties on a wide-range of Chinese manufactured goods (among them clothing-making machinery, such as knitting machines and finishing equipment), over allegations of intellectual property theft, China has announced possible retaliatory duties.

This includes potential 25% duties on uncombed cotton and cotton linters exported from the US. 

Julia Hughes, president of the USFIA, said: "I'm concerned about it but we're not going to see an impact yet and I hope we'll never see an impact. So far no-one is panicking about it. We need to see what develops here." She said she feared the impact on the clothing trade, especially from tit-for-tat duty retaliation.

US cotton is a key supply for the Chinese clothing industry. For the current 2017 crop year, China has been the US's second largest export market, buying 2.5m bales. 

National Cotton Council of America (NCC) chairman Ron Craft said he strongly encourages the two governments to engage in immediate discussions "that can resolve trade tensions and preserve this long-term collaborative relationship". His industry was ready to help the US government and trading partners in China to resolve "this damaging trade dispute".

There is time – the US Trade Representative (USTR) has said consultations on the duties will be staged until 22 May – and China's Ministry of Commerce has indicated Beijing would not impose duties unless the US did so first.

If it did act, the cotton duties would also be applied to Canada - it has been caught up in the row because of the free flow of goods between Canada and the US under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But the country does not currently commercially produce cotton, because it is too cold.

Click here to access the full list of proposed US duties.

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

Relief as China apparel and footwear avoid Trump tariff

Back in October an article on just-style suggested a trade war between the US and China could begin with cotton.