AAFA to Trump: Tariffs Have Caused ‘Severe Damage’ to American Businesses

Only three more days remain before tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports are set to take effect.

As top officials debate the terms of a “phase one” deal between the United States and China, the American Apparel and Footwear Association has penned a letter to President Donald Trump urging the removal of all duties on consumer goods. It included an appeal for “full and reciprocal elimination” of all levies that affect footwear, apparel and textiles, as well as the cancellation of a scheduled Dec. 15 duty hike.

“While the punitive tariffs imposed by both the U.S. and China over the past 15 months have brought attention to issues plaguing the U.S.-China trade relationship, they have also caused severe damage to U.S. companies, the millions of U.S. workers they employ and the hundreds of millions of U.S. consumers they service,” wrote President and CEO Rick Helfenbein.

According to the AAFA, roughly 92% of apparel and 53% of footwear imports have already been hit with a new 15% tariff since September. The organization estimates that if the second round of the fourth tranche of tariffs move forward, the annual cost to the industry would increase by more than $1 billion for shoes and $354.6 million for clothing.

Helfenbein added, “These costs — many of which were suddenly imposed — stifle investments, impede market access, lead to the loss of American jobs and raise prices for American families. The uncertainty associated with the talks only magnifies the pain by forcing companies to create and constantly revisit multiple tariff mitigation scenarios.”

The letter comes just hours after Trump suggested that Washington is nearing an agreement that could put a halt to its protracted trade war with Beijing. On Twitter this morning, he wrote that the U.S. is “getting very close to a big deal” with China.

In the past year and a half, leaders from the world’s two largest economies have imposed tit-for-tat duties on one another. Data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland — a bipartisan coalition of trade groups — show that the U.S.-China trade war has cost American consumers upwards of $42 billion to date.

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