More than 200 footwear manufacturers and retailers, including major brands such as Nike and Foot Locker, signed onto the letter alerting that the new tariffs could cost US consumers an additional US$4 billion a year and increase the chances of an economic downturn.
A broad array of 160 other trade groups – including software and electronics manufacturers, as well as retailers, liquor producers and others – also warned Trump of higher prices and damaged consumer confidence and urged him to abandon the tariff strategy.
“We’ve been telling the White House since the beginning that tariffs will be paid by Americans in the form of higher prices, and that due to our already high import taxes, this will be a job killer,” Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement.
The footwear group directly disputed Trump’s claim that China is bearing the cost of the tariffs.
“There is no doubt that tariffs act as hidden taxes paid by American individuals and families,” its letter said.
The Information Technology Industry Council agreed China needs to change its unfair trade practices, but said in a statement Wednesday that “the current tool of tariffs has simply not worked, and we’re continuing to see the negative results”.
The companies agreed with economists that recession risks are rising, warning that uncertainty caused by the confrontation with Beijing was rattling the wider economy – a sensitive subject as Trump seeks reelection next year.
“An economic downturn will take away disposable income from US consumers, even as they have to pay more for products,” they said.
Already high US import duties on footwear have continued to rise in recent years even as shoe prices have eased, according to the letter, meaning new tariffs almost certainly will be passed onto consumers.