Twenty-five of the largest retailers in America signed a letter addressed to President Trump on Monday urging him to reassess a plan to slap tariffs on goods imported from China. Among them, VF Corporation, the parent company of a portfolio of surf and outdoor brands – most notably Vans, Reef, and the North Face.
“The undersigned represent the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies, accounting for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales and tens of millions of American jobs,” begins the letter. “The retail sector, along with our domestic suppliers and solution providers, all contribute to a healthy economy and meet the needs of American families as the cornerstone of our nation’s communities.”
According to Reuters, the Trump Administration is reportedly considering imposing more than $60 billion in tariffs on goods from China including apparel, footwear, electronics, and toys. The move is a response to what the administration views as China’s violation of intellectual property rules – according to the Motion Picture Association of America, upwards of 90% of viewings of its output in China are illegal, says the Guardian.
VF and the other corporations who signed the letter – from Columbia Sportswear to Costco, Levi’s to Walmart – contend that they are not against protecting the United States’ intellectual property rights. But, “were [an] investigation [into property rights violations] to result in a broadly applied tariff remedy on imports from China, it would hurt American households with higher prices and exacerbate a U.S. tariff system that is already stacked against working families.”
What does this have to do with surf, you ask? Presumably, if the Trump Administration were to slap tariffs on Chinese goods, that would impact the price, among other products surfers lineup in droves to buy, of Vans’ enduring vulcanized footwear. In an interview with Vice in 2011, Steve Van Doren explained that some time ago Vans outsourced production to China, but is still interested in bringing jobs back to the US. Maybe tariffs on Chinese goods could be the impetus, despite VF’s opposition.
As of yet, the Trump Administration has not responded to the letter.
Below is the text of the letter in its entirety:
Dear Mr. President,
The undersigned represent the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies, accounting for more
than $1.5 trillion in annual sales and tens of millions of American jobs. The retail sector, along with our
domestic suppliers and solution providers, all contribute to a healthy economy and meet the needs of
American families as the cornerstone of our nation’s communities.
Millions of Americans are going back to work as unemployment is falling, wages are rising, and economic
growth is reaching highs not seen in over a decade. We support holding our trading partners accountable
and using targeted trade remedies against intellectual property theft, illegal dumping or subsidies, and
other proven trade violations. After all, our companies and the workers we employ thrive in a rules-based
globalized economy where markets are open, trade rules and obligations are met, and governance is fair and
At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section
301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families. Investigating technology and intellectual
property policies and practices is critically important to our innovative economy. Yet were this investigation
to result in a broadly applied tariff remedy on imports from China, it would hurt American households with
higher prices and exacerbate a U.S. tariff system that is already stacked against working families.
In the U.S., those who can afford less pay more because the U.S. levies the highest tariffs on basic consumer
goods. For example, families shopping in our stores pay higher prices because America already levies import
taxes as much as 32 and 67 percent on basic clothes and shoes. Applying any additional broad-based tariff
as part of a Section 301 action would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher
prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods.
We look forward to working with you on a pro-growth agenda that benefits American workers and their
families. As you continue to investigate harmful technology and intellectual property practices, we ask that
any remedy carefully consider the impact on consumer prices. We must do right by American families while
also addressing harmful technology practices.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.
Chico’s FAS, Inc
Haverty’s Furniture Co
JOANN Stores LLC
Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc
Ikea North America Services, LLC
Levi Strauss and Co
Oxford Industries, Inc
Qurate Retail Group
The Michaels Companies