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US Delays New Tariffs on ‘Certain’ China Clothing and Footwear Items

Apparel and footwear brands and manufacturers may get a break from the tariffs that were set to roil the sector in September.

Amid pressure from U.S. businesses and concerns about the trade war’s effect on the economy, the Trump administration on Tuesday decided to shorten the list of items it will target with new 10 percent tariffs.

A statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative Tuesday said, “Certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent.”

USTR has promised to publish in the Federal Register the newly amended list of tariff lines that will still be affected “as soon as possible.”

For the Chinese products that aren’t removed from the list altogether, USTR said, following the public comment and hearing process, that the tariffs would be delayed from the proposed Sept. 1 date to Dec. 15 “for certain articles.”

“Products in this group include, for example, cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing,” USTR said in a statement.

According to USTR, tariffs on some products will still go into effect on Sept. 1 as planned.

President Trump made no mention of the change on Twitter Tuesday morning, where his regular rhetoric continued instead.

In one tweet, the president said: “Through massive devaluation of their currency and pumping vast sums of money into their system, the tens of billions of dollars that the U.S. is receiving is a gift from China. Prices not up, no inflation. Farmers are getting more than China would be spending…”

Continuing, he said, “As usual, China said they were going to be buying “big” from our great American Farmers. So far they have not done what they said. Maybe this will be different!”

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While news of the tariff delay may be somewhat welcome, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said in a statement following the announcement, “The decision to implement the 10 percent tariff on nearly all remaining goods from China does not eliminate the threat and uncertainty the trade war has created for the American economy. We urge the Administration to use this time to reach a trade resolution with China before the Dec. 15 deadline hits and new taxes hit everyday consumer products and family budgets.”

Similarly, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) says the delay doesn’t resolve the fact that the Trump administration “is still persisting with a destructive plan to impose tariffs on consumer goods.”

“Make no mistake, these tariffs, including the ones imposed in earlier tranches, are paid by U.S. companies,” AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein said. “They create costs and uncertainty, forcing companies to delay or scuttle hiring and investment decisions and ultimately hit the U.S. consumer.”

Already, retailers have admitted to halting hiring, and Chinese exhibitors at Footwear Sourcing at MAGIC this week have said orders are down with retailers gun-shy about any new commitments or investments.