Tariffs on shoes ‘catastrophic’: Sneaker brands tell Trump

WASHINGTON: Major sneaker brands, including Adidas and Nike, told US President Donald Trump that proposed tariffs on imported shoes from China would be “catastrophic” for American consumers.

“Any action taken to increase duties on Chinese footwear will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on American individuals and families,” CNN quoted a coalition of more than 170 footwear companies as saying in a letter to Trump on Monday.

“It will also threaten the very economic viability of many companies in our industry.”

The letter was posted on the website for the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, an industry trade group.

It was also addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration hiked tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese-made goods. The tariffs mostly hit industrial materials and component parts, but also applied to luggage, hats and gloves for US importers.

Additionally, the Trump administration has started a formal process to slap 25 per cent tariffs on the remaining $325 billion in goods coming from China that aren’t already taxed. That list included sneakers, toys and other consumer products.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America estimated that 25 per cent tariffs on shoes coming from China would add $7 billion in additional costs for American customers annually.

“We can assure you that any increase in the cost of importing shoes has a direct impact on the American footwear consumer,” the companies wrote in their letter.

China is a key link in the supply chain for US shoe companies, CNN reported.

The country accounted for 72 per cent of all footwear imported into the US in 2017, according to data from retail industry trade groups.

Twenty-six per cent of Nike’s footwear and 26 per cent of its apparel were manufactured in China in its 2018 fiscal year, according to the company’s annual securities filing.

Other US companies have also recently warned that additional tariffs on Chinese goods will hit consumers.

Walmart, America’s largest retailer, said last week it will raise prices on some products as a result of the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods.