US footwear: protests over China’s duties as Hanoi takes off

La scarpa USA insoddisfatta dei dazi, quella vietnamita vola

The proposed increase of US duties, from 25% to 30%, on a part of goods made in China will not start today as previously stated. Phase 1 of the trade agreement reached on Friday by the USA and China included this operation. The document also includes the purchase, by China, of US-made agricultural products for a value between 40 and 50 billion USD. But at the same time, US-based footwear producers continue to voice their dissatisfaction, and make note of the increased export volumes coming out of Vietnam.

One step forward, three steps backwards

Matt Priest, president and CEO of FDRA (Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America) stated during an interview that: “talking of a potential agreement is a positive development. But we will not be fully satisfied until president Trump chooses to remove all import duties from China. Taking a step forward after having taken 3 steps backwards isn’t a real victory for US footwear businesses”. Meanwhile, Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of AAFA (American Apparel & Footwear Association), said that “the organization welcomes the president choice”. Without though forgetting that “the current tariffs are still in place and having an impact now”.

Vietnam’s take off

One of the countries benefitting the most from this commercial war between the USA and China is Vietnam. Many Western producers (among which are quite a few US-based players), have moved a part, or all of the production capacity that they used to have in Beijing and surroundings. According to local press Xinhua, which cites LEFASO (Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association), footwear export grew by 13.5% during the first 9 months of 2019, to reach a value of 13.3 billion USD. The increment for leather goods and accessories (handbags, wallets, suitcases, hats and umbrellas) grew by 12.2%, for a value of 2.8 billion USD.

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