Fashion Intel & Analysis
We are still waiting for more details about the next steps in the Trump Administration's 301 case against China, but we understand that the Administration is expected to release a new list this week of products that would be subject to penalty tariffs of 20 percent.
We are hearing rumors that apparel and footwear products on likely to be this list, but of course we will not know until it is released. We also understand that the board of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) voted to file comments and lobby to add textile and apparel products to the retaliation list. USFIA will definitely be coming out strong against these tariffs, and we are working with our legal counsel on the best course of action moving forward.
We will continue to keep members updated about the list and our next steps. As always, let us know if you have questions, or if we can provide assistance with your own lobbying efforts.
Treasury Declines to Name China Currency Manipulator, But Trump Does in Tweet
Last week, the U.S. Department of Treasury released the semiannual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States, otherwise known as the currency report. While Treasury found that the currency practices of six countries—China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Switzerland—“require close attention,” no major U.S. trading partner met the standards for currency manipulation or requires enhanced analysis. A few days later, however, President Trump contradicted the report in a tweet, saying, “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!”
The report is available on the Treasury website.
Yesterday, 160 textile, apparel, and retail companies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico sent a letter to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators of all three countries. The letter expresses support for the modernization of NAFTA but warns against “modifications to NAFTA that would eliminate current flexibilities or add new restrictions in the textile and apparel rules of origin ‐ including on the tariff preference levels (TPLs) – that undermine the competitiveness of our integrated supply chain and adversely affect the entire industry.” The letter is available here.
Late yesterday, April 5th, President Trump announced that he has instructed the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to consider $100 billion in additional retaliatory tariffs on China, in response to China’s own retaliation against the Section 301 tariffs announced last week. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers. In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs. I have also instructed the Secretary of Agriculture, with the support of other members of my Cabinet, to use his broad authority to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests,” said Trump in a statement. The White House released additional explanation of the announcement and the back-and-forth with China.
Some reports are calling this “governing by bluffing,” “just his extreme, gambler’s negotiating style.” Nonetheless, the announcement is considered to be an escalation of the “trade war,” and the Dow and futures fell overnight, though they bounced back a little bit. And China has said they will fight back “at any cost.”
Other than the announcement, there are not a lot of details about what this means and the next steps. What we know is that the new products included in the $100 billion will be selected following a process similar to the first group of products. There will be a list released for public comment, and a public hearing before action is taken.
We don’t know when the Administration will release this second list of products. Of course, many of you are concerned that this time, apparel, footwear, and home textiles may be included on the list. As soon as we have intelligence about the targets, we will let you know.
USFIA is planning to file comments on the 301 retaliation, and we are talking with the other industry associations about meeting with the Administration and Congress.
CBP Shares Video on Import Process
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has a new, five-minute video for new and existing importers to learn the process of importing goods and merchandise from foreign countries into the United States, promoting the necessary steps to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. The video is available on the CBP website.
Yesterday, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined more than 100 trade associations in a letter to the House Ways & Means Committee expressing concern about the Section 301 tariffs. The letter is available here, and the Wall Street Journal reported on the letter here. The committee is holding a hearing on the tariffs today; we’ll provide any relevant updates to members after the hearing.
In addition, this week, USFIA and other industry groups and companies, including several members, have been lobbying on Capitol Hill with the U.S. Global Value Chain Coalition. We joined other apparel and retail groups in an op-ed published in Morning Consult yesterday as the Hill meetings kicked off.
Make plans to join us in D.C.! Registration is now open for the USFIA Washington Trade Symposium on Capitol Hill in July. Every brand, retailer, and importer member has one complimentary registration—so we want to see every member company there! Click here for details and registration.
This afternoon the Trump Administration released the proposed retaliation list in the China 301 IPR case. The proposed list covers approximately 1,300 separate tariff lines and will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, including a hearing.
The good news for USFIA members is that there are no apparel or footwear or home textiles products on the list. The list is linked here.
We will be reviewing the list and the next steps in the process of deciding the actual retaliation.