“[I] promised citizens I would impose tariffs to confront China’s massive theft of America’s jobs,” Trump said in his State of the Union address tonight. “Our strategy has worked.”
Last month, the U.S. and China signed a partial “phase one” trade agreement, reaching a deal that both addresses intellectual property protection and promises more purchasing of U.S. goods by China. The partial agreement also eased nearly two years of tensions between the world’s two largest economies by pulling back certain planned tariff hikes the United States had imposed.
“Days ago, we signed a groundbreaking new agreement with China that will defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions of dollars into our treasury and open vast new markets for products made and grown here in the U.S.A.,” Trump said in his address. “For decades, China has taken advantage of the United States. Now, we have changed that.”
Under the “phase one” agreement, certain tariffs already implemented on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese products still remain. Those levies will stand until a “phase two” agreement is reached.
Upon the “phase one” signing, shoe industry leaders were optimistic but urged the administration to roll back all tariffs on consumer goods. The shoe industry faces $3 billion in duties every year, according to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, with footwear tariffs averaging more than 12% and going up to 67.5% on certain children’s shoes.
“Any time you’re moving in a direction where you’re eliminating duties — even if the duties were exorbitant to start with — [it is] a good direction,” said Matt Priest, president and CEO of the FDRA, in January. “[Tariffs] drive up costs for consumers, they make us less competitive [and] they take away money from footwear companies and retailers that could be invested in other capital investments.”
For over a year and half, Washington and Beijing were engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war, which saw hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new levies introduced by both sides.
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