The US has temporarily delayed tariffs on some Chinese footwear and clothing imports for 105 days

The US has temporarily delayed tariffs on some Chinese footwear and clothing imports for 105 days

The US tariff saga continues to unravel, with the latest move seeing some items of footwear and apparel among a number of imported Chinese products on which an additional tariff of 10% is to be delayed for 105 days until 15 December. 

The news was announced by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in a statement today (13 August), which detailed the next steps in the process of imposing the additional tariff.

Earlier this month, President Trump tweeted his plans for a 10% tariff hike on US$300bn of additional Chinese products from 1 September. The new tariffs covered almost all textiles, apparel and footwear and the decision left apparel brands, retailers and importers reeling.

But USTR now says that as part of its public comment and hearing process, the tariff should be delayed to 15 December for certain articles. Products in this group (List 4B) include "certain items of footwear and clothing," cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, and computer monitors.

Among the products in Tranche 4B (effective 15 December 2019) are knitted suits, skirts, silk shirts, underpants & briefs, bathrobes, dressing gowns, briefs & panties, silk T-shirts, cashmere sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts & waistcoats (vests); and woven anoraks & windbreakers, silk or synthetic fibre suits, and silk shirts.

Items of footwear include sports footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastics, valued not over $3/pair and formed uppers for footwear, of leather/composition leather, for women, misses, children and infants.

However, Tranche 4A (effective 1 September 2019) remains far longer and still includes the majority of men's and boys, women's and girls apparel imports. 

The temporary delay has been welcomed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) today, but the group also blasted the imposition of others. 

"While the Trump administration is delaying tariffs on 'certain items of footwear and clothing' for 105 days, and removing other items from the list entirely, it is still persisting with a destructive plan to impose tariffs on consumer goods used by every American and critical inputs used by US manufacturers," says Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

"Make no mistake, these tariffs, including the ones imposed in earlier tranches, are paid by US companies. They create costs and uncertainty, forcing companies to delay or scuttle hiring and investment decisions and ultimately hit the US consumer. Rebalancing our trade partnership with China is of critical importance, but taxing US companies, US consumers, and the US economy is not the way to achieve that goal."

AAFA testified against these tariffs in June, along with approximately three dozen companies from the apparel and footwear industry.

The National Retail Federation also responded to the news, noting while it is still reviewing the details, it is pleased the administration is delaying some tariffs ahead of the holiday season and acknowledging the impact on American consumers.

It added: "Still, uncertainty for US businesses continues, and tariffs taking effect 1 September will result in higher costs for American families and slow the US economy. During this delay period, we urge the administration to develop an effective strategy to address China's unfair trade practices by working with our allies instead of using unilateral tariffs that cost American jobs and hurt consumers." 

Meanwhile, other products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and "other factors," including some food for infants or young children, child safety seats, cranes, watch and clock movements, shipping containers, fish products, and nuts.

USTR says it intends to conduct an exclusion process for products subject to the additional tariff and will publish additional details and lists of the tariff lines affected in the Federal Register.