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U.S. apparel, footwear industry opposes likely Trump tariffs on China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. apparel and footwear industry on Tuesday joined the growing list of opponents in corporate America to the sweeping tariffs that President Donald Trump is expected to impose this week on goods imported from China.

A convention goer wears Stars and Stripes heels during the second session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), many of whose members rely on imports, sent a letter to the White House along with 16 other related business groups objecting to the tariffs.

AAFA members include VF Corp, Tapestry Inc, HanesBrands Inc and Ralph Lauren Corp. The group’s letter followed one sent Sunday by 45 trade groups objecting to Trump’s expected announcement implementing the new tariffs.

The AAFA letter also followed one sent Monday from more than 20 large retailers opposing the tariffs. Additionally, more than 80 shoe companies wrote a letter echoing the anti-tariff sentiments.

The Trump administration is said to be preparing tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecommunications and consumer products in an attempt to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property and investment practices.

Washington could impose more than $60 billion in tariffs on goods ranging from electronics to apparel, footwear and toys.

A so-called Section 301 action would allow Trump to impose unilateral tariffs on China in response to a conclusion by the U.S. government that the Chinese had violated intellectual property rules. The tariffs would not need congressional approval.

Tuesday’s letter, which was also signed by Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, focuses on specific problems that could stem from the tariffs, including higher consumer clothing costs.

“Such tariff increases would hurt U.S. consumers, U.S. workers, and U.S. companies,” the letter said.

Steve Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, said that because tariffs are already high on products like shoes, companies could be forced to either raise prices or reduce their American workforce if faced with increased taxes.

“We’re hearing about this form all of our members,” Lamar said. “Our phones are ringing off the hook.”

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Tom Brown