Leaders of the U.S. apparel industry gathered at the China Footwear Pavilion at the Las Vegas MAGIC Show to support maintaining strong trading ties with China and voice opposition to the U.S. administration's escalating tariffs.
"We are adamantly opposed to additional duties," Matt Priest, CEO of the U.S. Footwear Distributor and Retailer Association (FDRA) said, commenting on the U.S. plan to apply new tariffs on Chinese products including footwear.
"We will fight to delay new tariffs on shoes until the entire tariff threat is lifted off the backs of American families," Priest said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Our relationship with China is very important. They are our top supplier of footwear — over 70 percent comes from China based on a trusted relationship built up over decades," Priest said.
"We already pay three billion (U.S. dollars) in duties every year and 1.5 billion (U.S. dollars) of that is on products from China, so we are fighting vigorously against any more tariffs."
He pointed out that U.S. data shows that prices have already started to climb on the goods that U.S. President Donald Trump previously hit with tariffs. "You can't add an additional cost to something and not expect the costs to rise for the end-use consumer."
"We are a consuming nation, that's what drives our growth. So, if you see a recession take hold in consumer goods and see less consumption happening, the policy makers in Washington will see that it's not the best policy to tax their constituents to change the behavior of one of their largest trading partners," he commented.
"We are big on trade, and we've had a long and wonderful relationship with China for decades, resulting in 41 percent of all apparel, 72 percent of all footwear, and 84 percent of all accessories imported to the U.S. coming from China," said Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association.
"Over the years we've built up incredible, reliable supply chains with China that are really important to the industry and to America. They give us sustainability, quality control, and impact positively on workers' rights and product safety, to name a few. These are all things the American buyer is very concerned about. Any disruption of that is not good for business — not good for business in America, not good for business in China," he said.
"We've gone to great lengths to explain to the government that they must not go after the consumer. It's very disruptive, breeds inflation and will crash the economy," he said.
"As prices go up, sales go down, and jobs get lost. That's not somewhere we want to be. We want to enjoy the wonderful economy it took us eight years to build up, not wreck it," he added.
(with input from Xinhua)