Retailers to White House In Open Letter: “Do Right by American Families” on Trade

Some of the largest brands in retail sent a letter to President Trump outlining their concerns about the detrimental impact broadly applied tariffs could have on American families. The Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Retail Federation and their membership fought long and hard to help pass tax reform. The industry is concerned that any benefits from reform for retailers and families will be wiped out by broadly applied tariffs on every day consumer products.

The White House indicated they would consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act as part of their investigation into unfair Chinese technology and intellectual property policies and practices. Under section 301, the President has unilateral and discretionary action to retaliate against China. The retaliation package could include widespread tariffs on consumer goods, like electronics, apparel, footwear, and home goods. America’s retailers joined together to ask the President to consider the impact to working families before taking action.

“We support holding our trading partners accountable and using targeted trade remedies against intellectual property theft, illegal dumping or subsidies, and other proven trade violations,” the signers said.

“At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families…applying any additional broad-based tariff would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods. As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices. We must do right by American families while also addressing harmful technology practices.”

Sandy Kennedy, president of RILA stated that imposed tariffs could set the industry back.

“This is not American industries crying wolf. Higher tariffs will mean higher costs to businesses and in turn higher prices for American families. After a major tax reform victory, widespread tariffs on everyday consumer goods will wipe out much of the benefits realized by the average American household. We must do right by American families, and make sure they are not the ones who will pay for China’s harmful technology practices.”

“Tariffs are a hidden tax on Americans – plain and simple. More than 41 percent of clothing, 72 percent of footwear, and 84 percent of travel goods sold in the U.S. are made in China. A tariff on these products would be a tax on every American. In addition to increasing costs for American families, this action could result in retaliatory tariffs that target American businesses, resulting in job losses. At the end of the day, this could be disastrous for American families, American workers, and American businesses,” said Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO of AAFA.

“As the industry closest to consumers, retailers know firsthand how high tariffs will hurt American families. If the administration’s latest proposal goes into effect, Americans will see price increases on a wide range of basic products they purchase regularly at their local stores. We agree it’s time to address China’s unfair trade practices, but we can do so in a way that doesn’t destroy jobs, create uncertainty for businesses and increase every American’s cost of living,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

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