Handbags Swept Into Latest Trade War and Proposed $200 Billion Tariffs

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

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While handbags had thus far dodged a bullet on the increasing trade war with China, they’re now in the crosshairs.

The White House announced late Tuesday that an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. imports from China will be hit with a 10% tariff. Handbags, travel products and other accessories like hats are also on the list of targeted products, which would go into effect on August 30 unless the U.S. and China can strike a deal. Footwear remains spared. For now.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry responded that it would be forced to retaliate against what it called “totally unacceptable” U.S. tariffs.

Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation took to the airwaves to voice his dismay, stating: “Tariffs discourage consumption. They make us less competitive and are bad for American families.”

Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, also noted his opposition. “By including items such as handbags, hats and textiles on this additional list of products, the administration has shown that it is not concerned about targeting the American public with its ‘Trump Tax.’ This will result in inflationary costs throughout the supply chain, ultimately paid for by American consumers. With more than 84%  of U.S. travel goods coming from China, this will hurt enormously. The administration backed us into the corner with several months’ worth of tariffs – if this continues, it has the potential to severely impact our apparel, accessory, and footwear community. As an industry, we are already highly taxed and regulated.

“We urge the administration to refocus on resolving the underlying issue with China, rather than finding new and creative ways to tax Americans. If the administration refuses to work on behalf of the American public, Congress must exercise its Article I Section 8 powers to regulate commerce with foreign nations.”

Hun Quach, Vice President of International Trade, The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), cited the pain American consumers will face. “American retailers and the families we serve barely had time to process the barrage of tariffs implemented last week. Now, we will need to grapple with new tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports, which are bound to include even more consumer products and everyday essentials. The President has broken his promise to bring ‘maximum pain on China, minimum pain on consumers,’ and American families are the ones being punished. Consumers, businesses and the American jobs dependent on trade, are left in the crosshairs of an escalating global trade war.

“The Administration cannot continue to move the goal post. Unless the Administration finds meaningful solutions, American businesses, families, and jobs are on the losing end of this battle.”