Blog: Michelle RussellTrump tariff dispute rumbles on

Michelle Russell | 26 June 2018

The US has escalated its trade threats to China after President Donald Trump said he is considering tariffs on an additional $200bn of Chinese goods if China "refuses to change its practices."

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) last week said it has been tasked with identifying the Chinese products on which the additional 10% tariffs would apply, in a move that doubles an earlier list of Chinese imports – collectively valued at $100bn – already under consideration for additional tariffs.

China's Ministry of Commerce had responded by outlining retaliatory tariffs of 25% on $50bn worth of imports, including combed cotton – but also says the country will "fight back firmly" against additional tariff measures by the US government.

While, the European Commission has brought forward plans to implement higher duties on US products, including clothing, in response to the punitive tariffs by the Trump administration on imports of steel and aluminium. Originally scheduled for early July, the tariffs took effect from 22 June.

Trump also hit the headlines last week when the US footwear industry's business and trade association issued a strongly worded response to his allegation that Canadians are smuggling shoes across the border to avoid paying tariffs.

Speaking at the National Federation of Independent Business, the President said the tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that Canadians have to smuggle footwear into the country.

In UK retail, House of Fraser’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals have been approved in a move that means 31 of its 59 stores are due to close, affecting 6,000 staff members. While Debenhams has said it is reviewing its options on its Danish operations Magasin du Nord as the UK department store retailer also looks to cut costs.

The CEO's of Sainsbury's and Asda were last week grilled by MPs over their proposed merger, with the two UK supermarket chains told the cost of the deal will likely end up falling on the groups' suppliers. "It's a cut throat world out there and we know whose throat you're going to cut," Neil Parish, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, told them.

The future of Asia-Pacific's retail landscape, meanwhile, will force a fundamental change in the way Asian companies are structured, managed and do business, according to a new report. Asia-Pacific is innovating in a new direction towards a future that suits its own aspirations and needs – and retail technology is leading that innovation. It is also changing the framework and focus of globalisation, and that role will only increase.

Today's consumers are increasingly concerned their purchases should inflict the least possible harm on the environment and societies around the globe. As a consequence, there is more pressure than ever on retailers and brands to reassure responsible consumers their products are made using raw materials from reliable and sustainable sources.

In other news, John Lewis is piloting a new apparel buy-back service, Asos has updated its animal welfare policy, Cambodia's newly adopted national draft minimum wage law edges closer, and China cotton futures purchases are adding to market uncertainty.

Until next time...

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