Shoe Industry Leaders Just Joined Forces Against Trump’s Tariffs in an Unprecedented Way

The leaders of five major footwear industry associations are taking their case to the White House.

Today, the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, American Apparel & Footwear Association, Sports & Fitness Industry Association, Rubber & Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Industry Association sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump opposing the proposed tariffs on shoes and other footwear accessories imported from China.

Altogether, the groups represent the entirety of the footwear industry in the United States, including manufacturers, international merchants, retailers and about 1 million American workers. It was an unprecedented showing of cooperation and unity in the sector.

“The proposed additional tariff on footwear, footwear components and footwear machinery would do untold damage to our industry, ultimately affecting consumers in a negative way and hamstringing what has traditionally been a hugely successful part of the American economy,” it read. “These tariffs on U.S. imports from China undermine the domestic footwear industry, as well as take a serious toll on efforts to expand opportunities for the American consumer to purchase goods that are indeed Made in America.”

Three weeks ago, Washington increased levies from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese products, leading Beijing to retaliate with duties of 5% to 25% on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative also released a separate list of imports, including footwear, that could be hit with another proposed 25% hike in tariffs.

Dated May 30, the letter of opposition was signed by FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest, AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein, SFIA president and CEO Tom Cove, RPFMA chairman of the board John Larsen and OIA executive director Amy Roberts.

It addressed the impact of tariffs on domestic manufacturers, considering that many materials necessary for production are sourced through China and unavailable in the U.S. The tariffs would also affect footwear jobs, with a number of member companies already making attempts to relocate their supply chains outside of China.

The move comes 10 days after nearly 200 shoe companies penned a similar letter to Trump, calling for the removal of footwear from Washington’s latest tranche of tariffs. That memo was endorsed by the FDRA, which has expressed concerns that each U.S. family would have to spend an extra $131.93 on footwear annually should the threatened tariff increase take effect. (Consumers, overall, would pay $7 billion in additional costs each year for shoes.)

“These tariff actions, if applied to the footwear industry, will make goods more expensive for consumers and create an environment that leads to job loss and domestic factory slowdowns,” the latest letter read. “This move to increase duties on machinery, components and finished footwear would have drastic effects on patriotic American companies, some of which would face existential peril.”

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