Leaders of top retail and footwear industry organizations are reacting positively to President Donald Trump’s announcement to halt a scheduled escalation of tariffs amid progress in trade negotiations.
Following a weekend of talks, Trump took to Twitter yesterday to relay his decision to postpone the March 1 deadline that would’ve increased levies from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. (The president had previously said that the Friday deadline was “not a magical date.”)
“I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues,” he wrote. “As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1.”
He added: “Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”
The announcement drew praise from the National Retail Federation, with president and CEO Matthew Shay commending the White House for its efforts in addressing unfair trading practices.
“The decision to avoid a tariff hike is a positive development, and we encourage the administration to build on this momentum and reach a resolution that will eliminate uncertainty for American businesses and consumers,” Shay said in a statement. “We look forward to continued progress and an agreement that will end tariffs and achieve a more fair and balanced trading relationship.”
The rise in levies was expected to impact a wide variety of consumer products that could force businesses to raise prices for shoppers in order to accommodate soaring import costs. Walmart, Target and J.C. Penney are among the big-name retailers that have pushed back against the tariffs.
Meanwhile, the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America urged Trump to move quickly on scheduling his sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (The U.S. leader has indicated in the past that he would not accept a deal without first meeting his Chinese counterpart.)
“We are encouraged that President Trump announced substantial progress in trade talks with China and that he will delay an increase on $200 billion in trade that has already been hit with significant, new tariffs,” said president and CEO Matt Priest. “Higher costs for our consumers hurts our ability to sell shoes, and this directly impacts U.S. jobs in our industry. Our companies continue to struggle with uncertainty from these tariffs and the threat of even more tariffs.”
The American Apparel & Footwear Association called for the removal of the tax already implemented on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.
“While the additional delay and indication of progress are certainly encouraging, we want to remind consumers that tariffs are not paid by China. They are paid by hardworking American families,” said president and CEO Rick Helfenbein. “Real progress on China’s unfair trade practices is important; however, the continued use of 10 percent punitive tariffs only hurts American consumers.”
Within the past several months, Washington has slapped levies on $250 billion worth of Chinese products, while Beijing retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods. (The hike, originally scheduled for Friday, would have raised levies on $200 billion of those imports.) Today, Trump told a group of the nation’s governors during a meeting at the White House that the two countries are edging closer to an agreement.
“I told you how well we did with our trade talks in China, and it looks like they’ll be coming back quickly again,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a signing summit, which is even better, so hopefully we can get that completed, but we’re getting very, very close.”
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