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Trade & Tariffs

Outdoor apparel and footwear excluded from China tariff list

Though not directly targeting outdoor products, the raised rates on machinery could still impact manufacturing.

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While apparel and footwear didn’t make it on the list of about 1,300 Chinese imports targeted with 25 percent tariffs, the machines and tools used to produce those products did.

On Tuesday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a 58-page report of goods, including aluminum and steel, medical equipment and medicine, chemicals, guns, and aircraft parts — collectively worth about $50 billion annually.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) welcomed the news that outdoor products were spared from the initial list, but said in a news release that they will continue to make the case that imposing retaliatory tariffs on goods like apparel, footwear, and travel goods that are already overtaxed is the wrong way to address China’s intellectual property practices.

The proposed tariffs are designed as punishment for China reportedly stealing American intellectual property.

“We again call on the administration to pursue a more narrow, targeted approach, one that addresses legitimate concerns about protecting U.S. intellectual property without raising costs for American consumers,” said Alex Boian, OIA’s vice president of government affairs. 

Nick Sargent, president of Snowsports Industries America, said that after poring over documents yesterday and hearing from staff in Washington D.C., he also is relieved and cautious.

“Just because they produced that list, doesn’t mean things are done,” Sargent said.

And he’s right. On Wednesday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce fired back with plans that mirror the Trump Administration’s proposal. They also want to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of more than 100 U.S. exports, including soy, wine, and cars, according to multiple reports.

“This trade war situation is going to continue to evolve,” Sargent said. “We’re just going to have to continue to wait and watch….Because our industry isn’t in the crosshairs gives us some breathing room. But that being the situation, we can’t just turn a blind eye.”

Though not directly impacting ski poles, hiking boots, and other outdoor gear, the raised rates on textile machinery could still increase the cost of manufacturing those products. 

Just fewer than 100 products are tied to machinery for apparel and textiles manufacturing — textile printing and rolling machines, weaving machines, circular knitting machines, embroidery machines, and others as well as parts for the machinery.

“If you’re going to buy a brand new machine to weave textiles and ship it to the U.S., that may affect you,” Sargent said.
“If you have a die that you use on one of your machines that breaks and the only place to get it is China, it may cost a little more.”

Sargent said manufacturers tend to have extra tools, dies, and pieces for machines or they can source from other parts of the world.

The tariffs won’t go into effect immediately. But once in place, they are set to remain until President Donald Trump decides that China has met U.S. demands to improve its protection of intellection property rights and prohibit illegal technology transfers.

A public hearing for U.S. businesses is scheduled for May 15, according to the filing.

This story is developing and will be updated.