Active outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment manufacturer Columbia Sportswear recently testified before the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, DC, cautioning against the US Government’s proposed 25 per cent tariffs on Chinese imports. The company’ has a diverse supply chain with manufacturing partners in 23 countries.

US apparel and footwear importers have historically paid a disproportionate amount of tariffs, Katie Tangman, Columbia’s Director of Global Customs and Trade, noted during her testimony. Tangman cited US International Trade Commission data that show apparel and footwear imports accounted for 4 per cent of all imports in 2018, but 30 per cent of all duties paid.

“Apparel and footwear importers pay, on average, double digit import taxes for apparel and footwear products. For example, some of Columbia’s products are subject to import taxes as high as 37.5 per cent. Adding a tariff of up to 25 per cent on goods from China means that our import taxes would be as high as 62.5 per cent, an untenable amount,” she said.

According to the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Boyle, the proposal for increased punitive taxes on all products manufactured in China would have a significant detrimental impact here in the United States, acting as a tax on American consumers and employers and curtailing future investments. The threat of additional tariffs would leave the company with two choices: Either pass the cost onto consumers or be forced to curtail investment, according to the company.