Retailers can submit tariff comments

Furniture retailers can submit comments on another proposed increase in tariffs set to take effect Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Americans for Free Trade, a coalition of more than 160 business groups including the Home Furnishings Association, has asked President Trump to delay new tariffs and increases scheduled for the rest of the year.

“These tariff rate increases … come at the worst possible time, right in the middle of the busy holiday shipping period,” an Aug. 28 letter from the coalition said.

Earlier this summer, President Trump declared the United States would put 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion of List 4 products imported from China on Sept. 1. He later pushed back the effective date on some of those tariffs to Dec. 15.

“In remarks earlier this month, you recognized that delaying some tariffs would avoid hurting American consumers over the holidays,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, a large portion of holiday merchandise will still be hit by September and October tariff increases at an even higher rate than was initially anticipated.”

Tariffs on furniture imports to rise

In response to retaliation by China, the president said 10 percent tariffs would increase to 15 percent on the effective dates of Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 and that List 3 tariffs – which apply to most home furnishings products – would be raised from 25 percent to 30 percent on Oct. 1.

“We understand your frustration with China and are opposed to the tariffs the Chinese government has imposed as well,” the letter states. “But subjecting U.S. companies, the workers they employ and the consumers they serve to new and unprecedented taxes takes us further away from the deal you are working to craft.”

U.S. negotiators are pressing for China to reform its trade practices by easing access to its markets and to adhere to international trade laws. In a Federal Register notice published Aug. 29, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative explained that additional action is needed because existing tariffs did not succeed in curbing China’s practices. The notice also asked for public comments.

Retailers can submit comments

“USTR requests that commenters focus specifically on the proposed increase in the rate of additional duty from 25 percent to 30 percent, with an effective date of October 1, 2019,” the notice said. “In particular, USTR invites commenters to address specifically whether increasing the rate of additional duties on one or more subheadings listed in the Annexes would be practicable or effective to obtain the elimination of China’s acts, policies, and practices, and whether increasing the rate of additional duties on a particular product listed in the Annexes would cause disproportionate economic harm to U.S. interests, including small- or medium-sized businesses and consumers.”

Comments, due Sept. 20, must be submitted electronically through regulations.gov.

Americans for Free Trade represents retailers, manufacturers, farmers, technology firms, energy companies, service providers and others. Other members include the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Home Furnishings Alliance, National Association of Home Builders, International Wood Products Association, The Hardwood Federation and Home Fashion Products Association.

Doug Clark writes the HFA’s Policy Matters blog.

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