Outdoor Industry to Trump Administration: Tariff Hikes Will Hurt American Jobs

Outdoor companies are taking issue with President Donald Trump’s proposal to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports, pointing out that the move would take a huge toll on their businesses and workers.

Over the past 10 months, the administration has introduced new duties on billions of dollars’ worth of products from the Asian manufacturing hub, including many outdoor hard goods and consumer products. Last week, it further raised levies, from 10% to 25%, on about $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Then this week, fueled by frustration over the slow pace of negotiations with the Chinese, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released another group of products (dubbed List 4) that could be targeted next for increases, including apparel and footwear.

Leaders across the footwear and fashion industries have been vocal in their opposition to the plan.

Today, the Outdoor Industry Association, which represents more than 1,300 manufacturers, suppliers, sales reps and retailers, issued an open letter to the president and members of the Trump administration urging them to resolve their negotiations with China quickly and abandon the plan to increase duties on products like footwear and apparel — and to lift all existing tariff hikes.

“In the months since these punitive tariffs came into effect for most outdoor products last September, they have severely inhibited the ability of outdoor companies to grow their businesses. Additional tariffs, particularly on apparel and footwear, will deliver a devastating blow to the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and the 7.6 million American jobs it supports,” wrote Amy Roberts, executive director of the OIA.

Roberts noted that many product manufacturers already pay steep import fees — as high as 37.5% for hiking boots and 32% for a polar fleece jacket. She estimated that outdoor firms currently pay approximately $750 million in tariffs annually.

The OIA emphasized that the new duties would hinder business growth for American companies. “Raising the additional tariff … will further raise costs for outdoor manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, and cut into already thin profit margins,” said Roberts. “This means less money for new domestic jobs, and the design and development of innovative new products. It may also force small and medium-sized businesses to shut their doors.”

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