WASHINGTON, D.C.-The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) joins a multi-association letter to President Trump detailing priorities for a China trade deal. The message is addressed to “The Honorable Donald J. Trump” and outlines five top concerns.
The letter reads:
Dear Mr. President:
We are encouraged by news reports of progress in resolving the nation’s trade dispute with China. We hope that your leadership and the ongoing negotiations will lead to a final deal in the coming weeks that resets U.S.-China trade relations. As your negotiating team works to complete the remaining crucial elements of the agreement, we write to urge your Administration to prioritize five specific outcomes that are essential to the diverse industries, businesses and workers our coalition represents.
First, any deal must fully eliminate tariffs. As our coalition has made clear since the trade war began, tariffs are taxes that American businesses and consumers pay. To date, Americans have paid over $21 billion in taxes due to the imposition of new tariffs. Furthermore, every single second the tariffs remain in place, Americans are paying over $1,500 in added tariffs, and those figures don’t include the impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farmers, manufacturers and exporters. These taxes and the uncertainty they’ve created have resulted in layoffs, deferred investments and price increases in every corner of the country. Our campaign has shared over 500 stories of American businesses and workers negatively impacted by the trade war. As we inch closer to a final deal, a key part must be the full and immediate removal of all added tariffs when the deal is signed. Anything that falls short of that goal would be a loss for the American people. American businesses and farmers bearing the burden of the trade war have been told repeatedly by your Administration that they must endure “short-term pain for longterm gain.” They were promised that tariffs were merely a means to an end and that all this damage would be worth it. A deal that fails to lift tariffs would represent a broken promise to these hardworking Americans.
Secondly, any deal must truly address China’s unfair trading practices. For too long, China has engaged in unfair trading practices, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft, intellectual property violations and more. We hope any final deal will resolve the structural issues that are at the core of the trade dispute in order to fully protect American technology, innovation, and intellectual property.
Third, the Administration must avoid any enforcement mechanism that would trigger future tariffs and result in long-term economic uncertainty. We agree that enforcement must be a part of a final deal. However, coming home from the bargaining table with a deal that results in perpetual tariffs would be a failure. Instead of resetting our relations with China, this would continue the current status-quo of punitive tariffs that hurt American businesses and families. Using tariffs to enforce a deal that eliminates tariffs is a lose-lose proposition, and once again, Americans would pay the price. We must have an enforcement mechanism that does not punish Americans for China’s unfair trade practices.
Fourth, American businesses deserve clarity on how the exemption process for the first two lists of tariffed products will be impacted by a U.S.-China agreement. There are many American businesses who have now been waiting for months for exemptions and are on the precipice of receiving relief from the tariffs. In the event of a deal, the relief these companies have been seeking cannot be abandoned. We ask instead that you conclude the exemption process, regardless of negotiation outcomes, in a fair, transparent and timely manner.
Finally, consistent with established practice for trade agreements and other safeguards, we believe that after completing a deal the federal government must undertake a full economic assessment of the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers, particularly before drawing any conclusions about the role tariffs played in negotiations. Only through an in-depth look at the costs of import tariffs, retaliatory tariffs, lost markets, trade loss mitigation plans, deferred investments, business uncertainty and other factors will we truly understand the negative economic impact of tariffs as a negotiating tactic. We believe that any true accounting of the costs of the trade war would disprove their effectiveness as a means for negotiating trade outcomes and reinforce the fundamental truth that tariffs are taxes paid by Americans.
Like you, we want a trade deal with China that achieves meaningful change in our trading relationship with China. Tariffs, however, have already proven to be the wrong way to accomplish this goal. The economic harm we predicted has come to pass as American businesses and farmers across the country have suffered the consequences from the onslaught of tariffs. It will only worsen if your Administration chooses to retain or add punitive tariffs against China or other countries going forward.
The letter is signed by 175 associations covering a variety of markets and industries.
The news comes just one month after the AAFA Voices Support for United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
To view the full list of signatures, click on the PDF below.
For more information on the American Apparel & Footwear Association, visit https://www.aafaglobal.org.