President Trump could hold off on a trade deal with China until next November

President Trump could hold off on a trade deal with China until next November

Concerns are growing in the US apparel industry that Donald Trump is looking to delay a potential trade deal with China until after the 2020 presidential election.

Trump said it might be better to wait until after the election in November 2020 to strike a trade deal with China.

"In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right," Trump told reporters in London, according to CNBC. He added he did not have a deadline for the deal.

China is pushing for the US to remove tariffs on the country's imports. For apparel, most apparel items (HS chapters 61 and 62) imported into the US from China are subject to an additional 15% punitive rate, which came into force on 1 September 2019 (Tranche 4A). Tariffs on the remaining items – for which China's share of US world imports is largely more than 75% – are due to be imposed from 15 December 2019 (Tranche 4B). 

Trump has warned of plans to "substantially raise" tariffs on Chinese goods should the two sides be unable to finalise the "phase one" trade agreement they are currently negotiating.

US retailers say extending the trade war past the 2020 elections would be a "bad deal for every segment" of the US economy.

"The unpredictability created by the administration's mixed messages is only making a bad situation worse. While adding costs to the supply chain via tariffs is bad, not knowing if they will be used in the short-term, long-term, or off-and-on makes it incredibly difficult for businesses to invest and create American jobs," Steve Lamar, executive vice president at the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), told just-style.

"The apparel and footwear industry needed the tariffs removed yesterday. Suggesting that they could be around until after the 2020 elections is incredibly concerning."

David French, senior VP for government relations at the National Retail Federation (NRF) adds: "We want and need to see a deal as soon as possible. The tariffs continue to hurt US businesses, workers and consumers and are a substantial drag on the US economy. 

"Waiting another year to resolve the cost and uncertainty of the trade war is a bad deal not just for retailers and their customers but for every segment of the economy from farmers who export their crops to small manufacturers who rely on imported parts and materials. We agree that we need to restate our relationship with China on a number of levels but we need to bring resolution to this issue rather than delay it."