Wed, May 22, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Top footwear giants say tariffs catastrophic

OPEN LETTER TO TRUMP:Nike, Adidas and 171 other footwear makers said that increasing tariffs on imports from China is adding to the burden of US consumers

Bloomberg

A man wearing Nike shoes uses his smartphone near an advertisement for lingerie maker Victoria’s Secret in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: AP

Nike Inc, Adidas AG and other footwear giants urged US President Donald Trump to reconsider his tariffs on shoes made in China, saying the policy would be “catastrophic for our consumers, our companies and the American economy as a whole.”

In all, 173 companies signed an open letter to the president, dated Monday and posted on the industry trade association’s Web site.

It was also sent to US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.

“On behalf of our hundreds of millions of footwear consumers and hundreds of thousands of employees, we ask that you immediately stop this action to increase their tax burden,” the group said. “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.”

“As an industry that faces a US$3 billion duty bill every year, we can assure you that any increase in the cost of importing shoes has a direct impact on the American footwear consumer,” the letter said.

That sentiment has been echoed around the industry.

“We don’t make enough to absorb that,” said Michael Jeppesen, president of global operations for Wolverine World Wide Inc, which also signed the letter. “The only way it can is to be passed onto the consumer.”

The Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America estimates that the tariffs would cost US customers an additional US$7 billion per year.

The companies said in their letter that those costs would disproportionately affect working-class people.

Tariffs are an especially touchy subject within the footwear world, because shoe companies are already some of the highest payers of duties in the US.

Still, the companies in the letter vary in their reliance on China. Nike, for example, made 26 percent of its apparel and 26 percent of its footwear in China in fiscal 2018. Skechers USA Inc makes about 65 percent of its goods in China, but not all of those products are imported into the US.

Under Armour Inc, which also signed the letter, gets about 18 percent of its products from China — down from 46 percent in 2013. Its goal is to lower that number to just 7 percent by 2023.

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