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CEO DATELINE – Associations step up criticism of tariffs during public hearings

June 19, 2019
By Walt Williams

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Several associations have dialed up their public criticism of President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on Chinese products as federal regulators hold a series of public hearings on the plan this week.

On Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative launched what is scheduled to be seven days of hearings on the proposal, which would impose tariffs on approximately $300 billion on Chinese products.  The American Apparel & Footwear Association is among the many association critics of the plan, with CEO Rick Helfenbein appearing on NPR during the first day of the hearings to spell out his industry’s concerns.

“Forty-two percent of all apparel coming into America comes from China,” he told NPR. “Seventy-two percent of all footwear comes from China. And we don’t exactly have a place to go, which means, quite frankly, that prices will go up, that sales will go down.”

In testimony delivered at Tuesday’s hearing, Auto Care Association CEO Bill Hanvey said he group supported the administration’s attempts to address China’s unfair trade practices but that tariffs were the wrong solution to the problem.

 “As prices increase, not only are American jobs lost, but safety-critical maintenance is deferred, thus making American roads less safe,” Hanvey said.

That same day during a town hall event in Denver, the Outdoor Industry Association released data suggesting the administration’s previous round of tariffs resulted in companies and consumers paying an extra $1.1 billion on outdoor products. Increases in existing tariffs and the additional threatened tariffs will cost the outdoor industry an additional $1.5 billion every month, the group said.

“To date, these tariffs have caused so much unpredictability for outdoor companies that many have had to slow or cancel job-creating investments and have resulted in higher costs for businesses in every corner of the country,” said Patricia Rojas-Ungar, OIA’s vice president of government affairs.