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AAFA and FDRA react to US tariff announcement

Leading organisations from the US apparel, footwear and outdoor industries have expressed their relief that their products have so far escaped being caught up in ongoing trade tensions between the US and China.

On April 4, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released a list of around 1,300 Chinese products which it intends to target with 25% tariffs.

Apparel, footwear, travel goods and related products imported from China were not included on the list. 

Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), said in a statement: “We are pleased with the administration’s decision to avoid adding tariffs to US imports of apparel, footwear, and travel goods from China. Tariffs are a hidden, regressive tax on Americans and such a decision would have had a disastrous impact on American consumers.”

For his part, the president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), Matt Priest, said these industries were taking a “deep sigh of relief”. 

Although apparel and footwear products are not affected directly, the USTR’s list does include several items of machinery and tools used to manufacture these products. 

“We are concerned that the list includes tariffs on machinery used in our domestic manufacturing process,” Mr Helfenbein said, adding it would “impact our ability to grow Made in USA”.

FDRA spokesman, Andy Polk, said the impact on the footwear industry would be minimal, explaining that only 5% of machines used by US shoe producers come from China. The majority of its members buy their machinery from Italy and Germany, he added. 

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) also released a statement about the issue. It expressed satisfaction that apparel, footwear and travel goods were not included on the USTR’s initial list but said it would continue to fight to ensure outdoor products are not on the list. 

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