The Trump administration has doubled down on plans to escalate its trade dispute China on Sunday, a move retailers across the country have warned against.
Testifying before US trade officials in June, dozens of retailers said proposed tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports would raise price tags for American businesses and consumers. That could chip away at one of the brightest spots in the US economy: retail spending.
The US duties are scheduled to take effect in two stages, on September 1 and December 15. China has vowed to retaliate with more tariffs on American products.
Public hearings on the tariffs lasted seven days, with witnesses allowed to speak for five minutes each. Here’s what they told the Trump administration, according to US Trade Representative transcripts.
The mere threat that tariffs could be imposed on nearly all remaining imports from China has already accelerated a scramble among importers to find alternative sources of supply. As a result, higher prices are already on the horizon for American families, regardless of the outcome of this investigation, or the products selected for coverage. -Bryan Wolfe, Ascena Retail Group
This will result in an annual cost increase that exceeds $10 million, and eliminates our annual profits entirely. If sales decline, overhead and labor costs will need to be reduced, leading to the elimination of jobs, which in turn, will make our operation unsustainable. Please understand, we are supportive of the President’s trade policy with China. We just need 8 to 12 months more time to complete our transition properly. -Jim Day, 47 Brand, LLC
In imposing tariffs, we will not achieve the goal of protecting IP infringement matters, but penalize US consumers and US companies throughout the, throughout the country. -Christopher Volpe, United Legwear & Apparel Co.
I am requesting that the U.S. Trade Representative and the Trump administration refrain from using tariffs, excuse me, taxes, to reduce the trade deficit. The economic health of my customers, my main street, my business, my employees, and my family hinge on not adding any more burden on the back of small businesses. -Trey Kraus, Carlton’s Men’s Wear, Inc.
As production moves from China to other countries, compliance with existing regulation and standards is a serious concern. In some cases, American employees work in their partially-owned Chinese factories performing quality control supervision to ensure compliance.
This effort did not happen overnight. -Brent Cleaveland, Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Assoc.
As we enter the third and fourth quarter, the period all retailers achieve profitability, they will see lack of customer enthusiasm for higher prices. Many retailers are already closing stores and price increases will surely hasten their demise. -Jean Kolloff, Quinn Apparel Inc. + Qi Cashmere
We make largely price sensitive, impulse purchase items. So further cost increases cause great harms. This concerns us greatly as a significant number of our members consist of start-up businesses and companies that have been in operation for less than five years. -Karen Giberson, Accessories Council
This scenario would be catastrophic for our company. -Jeff Fischer, Planet Gold Clothing Company Inc.
Because footwear is consumer-stable, and because China dominates the production of these items, every American will feel the adverse effects of these tariffs, which will simply be an additional tax on American consumers. -Marc Schneider, Kenneth Cole Productions Inc.
The cost of producing elsewhere in the world may be too costly too, as we are barely profitable now. That means that we either continue sourcing in China, and increase our prices, which will likely mean decreased sales, or we may try to move out which will take more than a year. -Mark Corrado, Leading Lady Inc.
I can say without hesitation that by raising or imposing these new tariffs, 25% tariffs, there will be disproportionate harm to our company, as well as to the consumers who have need of purchasing them. -Mark Flannery, Regalo International LLC
This increased cost will have to be passed onto consumers, due to traditionally low profit margins and their price sensitivity, making these lifesaving products unaffordable to much of the country’s population. -Bradley Mattarocci, Baby Trend, Incorporated
Imposing tariffs to punish the originating country also damages US supply chains and puts these American jobs at risk. While we recognize the issues with China’s IP forged technology transfer practices, we ask ourselves if the cost of tariffs to US companies and consumers causes more harm than the problem they are trying to solve. -Patrick Fox, VF Corporation
These additional duties and costs will result in higher price points in the long term and reduce demand and lower sales of their leather products. -Karen Gilberson, Patricia Nash Designs
I just want to make the observation that the threat of a tariff is the same as implementing of a tariff, due to the long lead time it takes for our supply chain to adjust. -Michael Jeppesen, Wolverine Worldwide
The proposed duties will not just disrupt our Chinese sourcing of these products, it will directly and negatively impact our employees. -Jonathan Viner, KIK Custom Products
Prices will go up; sales will go down; jobs will be lost. -Rick Helfenbein, American Apparel & Footwear Association
Based on our preliminary analysis of a 25 percent punitive tariff, we project millions in additional costs for our five New England factories. -Monica Gorman, New Balance Athletics
We think this is going to hurt the very people that the President, we think, has committed to when he stated, ‘We want to make America great again.’ We think that is something that needs to be thought through. -Sean Georges, Shoe Carnival Inc.
If the tariff is imposed, as buyers on the international market, American museums will pay a higher price to acquire and bring home to America works of art of Chinese origin. -Stephen Knerly, Association of Art Museum Directors
We understand the position of the President regarding the current trade relations with China, and we support realigning the trade agreements to correct the unfair trade practices. However, we are deeply concerned about the impacts of these tariffs on all the manufacturers who attempt to provide the equipment for what the American public calls its favorite pastime, fishing. -Glenn Hughes, American Sportfishing Association
If you remember nothing else I have said, US workers and US consumers will be hurt and foreign companies will be helped. -Harlan Kent, Pure Fishing Inc.
As a result of these tariffs, we will reduce capital investments in the US, reduce new product development, reduce hiring, and potentially go out of business. -Tim MacGuidwin, The Catch Company
We agree, the administration should address China’s discriminatory practice towards intellectual property rights, however we do not believe that imposing punitive tariffs on consumer hunting products will convince China to change its behavior. -Mike Powell, Primos Hunting
Please don’t put American jobs at risk by including codes that will not accomplish the goals of the increased tariffs. -Robert Beckwith, Velocity Outdoor, Inc.
We believe the imposition of these proposed tariffs puts recreational fishing at risk of being taxed into a sport for only the wealthy. -Jeffrey Moore, W.C. Bradley and Zebco Holdings
Any tariff on printed books, regardless of genre or title, would be a tax on every reader, whether they are community members who buy books in our store or whether they are school districts seeking to provide titles for students. -Jamie Fiocco, American Booksellers Association
These disruptions would have immediate and negative consequences for the children’s book market. The bottom line is if tariffs are imposed, there will be fewer books available to American kids. -Daniel Reynolds, Workman Publishing
If printed books including bibles are not removed from the fourth list of products from China to be subject to tariffs, when tariffs go into effect, consumers and religious organizations will face higher prices. -Mark Schoenwald, HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Tariffs may be intended to encourage consumption of non-Chinese products, but they make our customers no more able to afford them. -Craig Andereson, Publishers Clearing House