U.S.-China Tariff Hearings Begin in Washington

U.S. businesses and trade groups are descending on Washington, D.C., this week to voice their concerns about (or support for) the newest round of tariffs that President Donald Trump has proposed for an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Some 359 executives are scheduled to speak over the course of six days — double the original length of the hearings planned by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, which represents the outpouring of interest from companies that want to testify.

On Monday, clothing and accessories groups kicked off the first session, with Stephen Lamar of the American Apparel & Footwear Association and Karen Giberson of the Accessories Council taking the floor to criticize the escalating trade war and its potential impact on both American consumers and business owners.

“Tariffs are a hidden, regressive tax that raise prices, lower sales and hurt American employment,” AAFA President and CEO Rick Helfenbein said in June. “Rather than letting this continue, it is time for Congress to utilize its power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, as outlined in the constitution. Tariffs do not work. Nobody wins.”

The newest list of tariffs on goods from China includes a significant number of consumer items, such as handbags, apparel and furniture. (The first round, on $34 billion in imports, is currently in effect, and the second, on an additional $16 billion, will take effect on August 23.) While the footwear industry was mostly spared, metal eyelets, shoe polish and numerous textiles and leathers used in shoe production all made the cut.

Representatives from the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association, two groups that have also been trade-war detractors, are due to speak on Thursday, while textile industry executives are expected to present a more supportive case throughout the week.

A Beijing delegation will meet with U.S. officials to resume trade talks on August 22 and 23.

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