May is World Trade Month, and it certainly was a busy one for those of us in Washington, D.C., who care about U.S.-China trade relations and the need to reduce barriers to trade. Keep reading for more about our advocacy and media efforts to talk about the importance of this trade relationship for U.S. jobs and our work to keep textiles and apparel off the list of products subject to new tariffs.
For anyone interested in trade, you already know that during this week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) held a three-day hearing on the proposal to add new products to a list of products from China subject to tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. USFIA President Julia K. Hughes testified on Day #2 of the hearing, explaining how trade supports jobs across the global value chain—and how new tariffs would constitute a huge, regressive tax increase on American families. POLITICO PRO covered the debate between the fashion and retail industry and the domestic textile producers, and explained just how many American jobs (1 in 4!) in our industry are supported by imports from China.
The day after we testified, Sourcing Journal published an op-ed by Hughes explaining how new tariffs on China won’t bode well for “skirting” a trade war. (We love a good fashion pun!)
In case you missed any of the comments, the links are below.
- USFIA Testimony
- USFIA Op-Ed in Sourcing Journal
- USFIA Post-Hearing Rebuttal Comments
- U.S. Global Value Chain Coalition Post-Hearing Comments
- Multi-Industry Association Post-Hearing Comments
Hughes also participated in a timely event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) featuring U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), who serves as co-chair of the U.S.-China Working Group, and association presidents from the American Chemistry Council, Information Technology Industry Council, Alliance for American Manufacturing, U.S. Grains Council, and of course, USFIA.
Larsen expressed his opposition to the Section 232 tariffs, saying that U.S. trade policy right now is an approach “straight out of the 80s—the 1880s!” He said the United States must be “forward-thinking in setting the rules of trade,” because “we have a lot to lose if we don’t.” He also said we need to get back in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because we are losing our competitive advantage to TPP-11 and China. Following his remarks, the other panelists discussed trade and tariffs, and generally agreed that we need to find ways to deal with the China IP challenges, though there was some disagreement on whether tariffs work or not. (You know where we stand!)
While the 301 tariffs seem to be delayed, for the moment, don’t expect this issue to go away any time soon—and definitely don’t expect to see a drastic change in U.S. trade policy or the rhetoric from the Trump Administration about imports and tariffs. We encourage all members to join us in Washington in July to hear from policymakers first-hand and express your concerns with personalized meetings on Capitol Hill. Click here for details and registration.