Trump’s New China Tariffs Won’t Hit Footwear

The shoe industry is breathing a sigh of relief today after the Trump administration released its new tariff target list — focused on imports from China — and it does not include footwear.

“I’m so proud of the effort that footwear companies, executives, employees and FDRA staff put forward to help keep footwear off President Trump’s new tariff target list,” said Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, which spearheaded the shoe industry’s efforts to combat additional tariffs. “Including footwear on the list was a very real and substantial threat to footwear workers and consumers across the country, and we are very pleased that we can take a deep sigh of relief.”

The Trump administration’s list comprises about $50 billion in goods, according to the FDRA, that it plans to hit with additional 25 percent tariffs.

The FDRA noted the list does include some imported machinery used to manufacture footwear, but there are no additional tariffs on imported shoes.

When reports surfaced last month that President Donald Trump planned to impose sweeping tariffs on imports from China, 82 footwear retailers, including Nike, Wolverine Worldwide and Clarks, sent a letter to the White House expressing “strong concern.”

(The U.S. footwear industry would have been among the sectors with the most to lose should the additional tariffs have included it — since more than 71 percent of the shoes the U.S. imports are coming from China.)

“U.S. footwear imports already face astronomically high tariff rates that fall disproportionately on working-class individuals and families,” the letter stated. “While U.S. tariffs on all consumer goods average just 1.3 percent, they average 11 percent for footwear and reach rates as high as 67.5 percent. In 2017 alone, U.S. footwear companies and U.S. consumers paid nearly $3 billion in these hidden taxes. This amounts to billions upon billions of dollars paid since these tariffs were first enacted in the 1930s. U.S. footwear tariffs stifle innovation and job creation and raise the cost of shoes for every American.”

Similarly, retailers such as Walmart, Macy’s and Levi’s also sent a letter to the White House expressing concerns that new China tariffs would result in undue harm.

Nevertheless, Trump moved forward with the new tariffs, signing the order on March 22 to impose as much as $60 billion in levies against China.

Among the products included on the new tariff list are medical equipment and certain machinery and steel products.

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