US Tariff Revenue Hit a Record $7 Billion in September as Shoe Companies Joined in Footing the Bill

The U.S. raked in a record $7.1 billion in tariff revenue in September as a fresh round of duties hit Chinese imports such as footwear, new Commerce Department data shows.

American importers’ tariff bill increased 9% over the previous month and 59% over September 2018. The timing of the new high shows the impact of President Donald Trump’s latest round of 15% duties on $112 billion worth of Chinese products, most of them consumer goods, which went into effect on Sept. 1.

The revenue figures were compiled by The Trade Partnership, an economic consultancy, and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a group of business and agricultural associations that oppose tariffs. The groups say the trade war has cost American consumers and businesses $38 billion since it began last February, and while footwear was spared from the initial lists of affected goods, the industry is now feeling the impact directly.

New data from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America show that the average duty per pair on shoes imported from China increased from $1.02 in September 2018 to $1.57 in September 2019, a record 53.6% surge. Of all shoes sold in the U.S., 68% come from China, so the organization forecasts that consumers will soon feel the pinch.

Last week, Steve Madden’s CEO confirmed to analysts that the brand will be raising prices on its shoes by mid-single digits as its spring collection hits shelves. Puma, meanwhile, said it expects tariffs to dent its margins — along with those of its competitors — going into the all-important holiday season.

On Thursday, however, China’s Ministry of Commerce indicated that the trade war could soon be winding down. According to Bloomberg, spokesperson Gao Feng said that negotiators between the two countries had “agreed to remove the additional tariffs in phases as progress is made on the agreement.”

While no deal has been signed yet, the plan would be for China and the U.S. to each roll back tariffs on the other’s goods in phases, he said.

Last month, the countries agreed to a temporary truce in the trade war, with Trump agreeing to pause plans to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods from 25% to 30%, which were previously scheduled for Oct. 15. In exchange, China said it would purchase $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American agricultural products and agree to certain guidelines on intellectual property.

In a statement to FN following last month’s announcement, FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest said the ceasefire was a first step. “In this ongoing, uncertain trade and business environment, any talk of a potential deal is a positive development. However, we will not be fully satisfied until President Trump removes all of the China 301 import taxes hitting American families and American businesses,” he said.

“The tariffs have already raised consumer costs and prevented shoe companies from growing,” he added. “One step forward when we’ve taken three steps back on trade policy isn’t a real win for American shoe companies. We urge trade negotiators on both sides to keep working to a full agreement that rolls back all recent tariffs so everyone sees lower costs and shoe companies can unleash innovation and create new jobs.”

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