Footwear Insiders Upbeat on US-China Trade Deal — But Eventually Want All Tariffs Removed

Shoe industry leaders welcomed the announcement this afternoon that the U.S. and China confirmed they had reached a trade deal.

“We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” President Trump said in a tweet on Friday.

Insiders were upbeat on the news, particularly given the $3 billion in duties the shoe industry already faces every year.

“Tariffs are hidden taxes paid by U.S. individuals and families, and hitting these hardworking Americans with a massive tax increase during the holiday season would stifle economic growth and threaten jobs in our industry,” said president and CEO Matt Priest. “As negotiations continue, we urge the administration to further eliminate the high footwear tariffs that are hurting American footwear companies and consumers.”

The American Apparel and Footwear Association called the import tax relief “a step in the right direction” but also sought the removal of all such tariffs.

“The administration has imposed one of the largest consumer and manufacturing taxes in American history, most of which remains in place following this agreement,” said president and CEO Rick Helfenbein. “Rising costs are already working their way through supply chains, and they will still have a negative impact going into next year… The sooner these tariffs are eliminated, the better — and we won’t stop pressing our case until this happens.”

The news came after an erratic day on the stock market. At market open, major indexes hemmed and hawed after President Donald Trump called yesterday’s The Wall Street Journal report on progress in the United States-China deal “completely wrong.”

On Twitter, the American leader tweeted “fake news” after a WSJ article published Thursday afternoon read that U.S. officials had agreed to do away with the upcoming 15% levy on certain Chinese imports set to take effect on Dec. 15, which would have impacted a wide array of consumer goods including footwear, apparel and accessories.

“They should find a better leaker!” Trump wrote.

As part of their limited trade deal, per the WSJ, Washington has insisted that Beijing purchase greater quantities of agricultural and other products, and negotiators have sought better protection for U.S. intellectual property rights and wider access to China’s financial services sector. A clause known as a “snapback” provision would put back in place the tariff rates if China fails to deliver on those promises.

Over the past year and a half, the U.S. and China have imposed tit-for-tat duties on one another. America currently has in place a 25% tariff on roughly $250 billion worth of Chinese products and a 15% levy on an additional $111 billion.

This story was updated with comments from the FDRA and the AAFA. 

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