More than 170 of the US’ biggest footwear retailers have warned that the trade war with China will have a “catastrophic” impact on American customers and the economy in a scathing letter to President Donald Trump.
The letter from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the trade organization for American’s footwear industry, warned that the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on footwear would cost American customers an additional $7 billion a year, and could threaten the future of some American footwear companies.
The letter was signed by 173 footwear giants including Nike, Adidas, Converse, Under Armour, Foot Locker, Ugg, Clarks, Crocs, Dr Martens, Keds, Puma, Reebok, Sketchers, and Steve Madden.
Read more: The Trump administration is preparing tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Here are all the products that will get hit.
It called for Trump to remove footwear from the list of products he is proposing tariffs on, and was also addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.
The Trump administration announced in May that it is preparing to place tariffs of up to 25% on additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, including footwear, in an escalation of the trade war with Beijing.
The footwear industry’s letter said that a 25% tariff on footwear “would be catastrophic for our consumers, our companies, and the American economy as a whole.”
Trump has blamed China for a loss of manufacturing jobs in the US, and advertised tariffs as a way to support American businesses.
Read more: Beijing calls for a ‘people’s war’ against the US as Trump threatens tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods in all-out trade battle
The letter said that US footwear companies have been “moving away from China for some time now” but said that decreasing reliance on the country is a long process as “footwear is a very capital-intensive industry, with years of planning required to make sourcing decisions, and companies cannot simply move factories to adjust to these changes.”
It said that tariffs would harm Americans and the companies themselves: “Any action taken to increase duties on Chinese footwear will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on American individuals and families. It will also threaten the very economic viability of many companies in our industry.”
The letter also said that footwear tariffs “fall disproportionately on working class individuals and families.”
Read more: Trump’s own economics adviser just shot down his misleading claim that US consumers won’t pay for the tariffs in the China trade war
“Adding a 25% tax increase on top of these tariffs would mean some working American families could pay a nearly 100% duty on their shoes. This is unfathomable.”
Trump has asserted that China will pay the price for these tariffs, though Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, said earlier in May that “both sides will pay.”
The footwear industry called for an end to the trade war to help American customers: “Your proposal to add tariffs on all imports from China is asking the American consumer to foot the bill. It is time to bring this trade war to an end.”