What the outdoor industry says about tariffs

Outdoor products aren't immune. Sleeping bags, outerwear, footwear, and tents could be hit by a fourth round of duties.
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The tariffs on Chinese imports just keep coming. President Donald Trump last week announced that the U.S. will impose 10 percent on $300 billion worth of products—a fourth round in the trade war—which could include all outdoor apparel, footwear, tents, sleeping bags, skis, snowboards, and other sporting goods. These could take effect as early as Sept. 1.

Here's what nine outdoor companies and organizations are saying—either directly to SNEWS, in public statements, or in testimony—about the tariffs.

Krimson Klover Chief Operating Officer Gail Ross

Gail Ross headshot

Gail Ross recently spoke to NPR about the tariffs.

"We have very intricate jacquard designs in our sweaters, dresses and skirts. The machinery to make these does not exist in the U.S. You can make a wool sock in the United States, but not the complicated knit designs that make Krimson Klover’ s clothing unique. 

"There are other countries such as Vietnam that have the machinery needed for our production. However the minimums per style are 3 to 4 times more than what we have with our China factory base. We can make some changes to our production platform, but we can’t do it with this short notice. In addition, moving to a new factory takes a lot of resources and time and we wouldn’t take the risk of moving all of our product in one or two seasons to untested new factories."

Snowsports Industries America President Nick Sargent

Nick Sargent headshot wearing blue button down shirt

Nick Sargent has led SIA since 2015.

"Make no mistake, this is a tax on U.S. consumers and it's become more real by the day. This knee jerk diplomacy has severe implications for our manufacturers who will most likely try to absorb the costs in the short term, wiping out any margins they may have had, but also across our retail network and their consumers who will have to deal with unrealistic price increases. Our main selling season begins soon and if we're going to grow as an industry, these tariffs have to be rescinded. SIA is working hard to let our lawmakers know that these decisions are not in the best interest of the snow sports industry and American business.” 

Outdoor Industry Association VP of Government Affairs Patricia Rojas-Ungar

Patricia Rojas-Ungar, OIA

Patricia Rojas-Ungar became OIA's new VP of government affairs in Nov ember 2018.

“This so-called ‘small’ tariff is anything but. If this ‘small’ tariff had been in place in May, it would have cost outdoor businesses more than $700 million in new tariffs. The hard-working Americans in the outdoor industry have already shouldered an extra $1.25 billion in tariffs from the previous round imposed in September 2018. These ‘taxes’ should instead be going back into creating more jobs, developing new products and expanding facilities and businesses."

Sports and Fitness Industry Association President and CEO Tom Cove

“We are disappointed with the President’s action to escalate this trade war. The announcement of the tariff truce between President Trump and President Xi gave us hope that the two nations would continue negotiations in a positive way that would not harm American consumers and corporations. While we see protecting intellectual property as critically important to global commerce, tariffs are not the solution to the problem, and the American economy will suffer.”

Columbia Sportswear Company President and CEO Tim Boyle

crop of tim boyle headshot, in black and white

Read what Tim Boyle said about Trump's immigration policies.

“If tariffs are imposed, Columbia Sportswear Company – along with many other manufacturers in our industry – will be forced to raise prices on our products. This is a massive tax on employers and consumers, not on China. 

"Footwear and apparel are some of the most highly taxed products in the United States. Herbert Hoover-era tariffs as high as 37.5% are already in place and are being paid by U.S. consumers. With President Trump’s proposed 10% tax on goods manufactured in China, the American people will see almost half the cost of their shoes and clothing go to taxes."

Burton Corporation Senior VP of Operations Josee Larocque

Josee Laroque with girl in snowboarding gear

Josee Larocque testified before the USTR against the tariffs in June.

"The proposed duties impact the cost of around 42 percent of the products we sell by increasing import duties to over $5.3 million in this fiscal year alone, which was unplanned and is devastating to a company of our size. It is hard to imagine U.S. companies not being forced to make significant changes to their business. These changes will likely include more retail price increases, passing a portion of the incurred costs along to U.S. consumers."

A piece of testimony to the Office of the United States Trade Representative on June 25.

Downlite President Josh Werthaiser

"Downlite, and others in our industry will have no choice but to continue sourcing feather and down from China, due to their dominance of the supply chain...Tariffs, obviously, to us, would basically mean higher costs that we would then have to pass on to our customer base, and in turn, to theirs. We do not have the margins within our pricing to go ahead and be able to absorb, so we would have to pass those on dollar for dollar. These higher prices would debilitate the demand within our industry due to price elasticity that exists."

A piece of testimony to the USTR on June 21.

PeopleForBikes State and Local Policy Director Morgan Lommele

Morgan Lommele, with people for bikes

Morgan Lommele is the state and policy director at PeopleForBikes, which recently merged with the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association.

"The price of the family bike ride is going up. Bike riding is going down. Tariffs are causing this...Our industry, from billion dollar enterprises, mostly to Main Street mom-and-pop business, is anxious about this latest round of tariffs, which will be passed along to our customers. Sales tax and business tax collections at all levels of government will suffer. For some local bike stores, the small, time-tested, family-owned businesses that are already struggling because of low margins and e commerce, not to mention a decline in participation, this new government fee may be the final blow that puts them out of business."

A piece of testimony to the USTR on June 20.

NEMO Equipment COO Brent Merriam

"NEMO's line of camp chairs, representing about 10 percent of our overall business, was impacted by the Round 3 tariffs. The recent increase in there tariffs to 25 percent is having a negative impact on our bottom line, costing NEMO more than $120,000 on goods shipped to support our fall 2019 business. For now, we have elected to absorb the cost increases without passing them along to our customers, as higher prices would be a deterrent to purchase, slowing the pace of sales and engendering customer dissatisfaction. With our proposed Round 4 tariffs looming, we have diverted our limited resources to finding alternative sourcing for sleeping bags, tents and sleeping pads, a difficult task for some product categories."

A piece of testimony to the USTR on June 19.

This Thursday, OIA is hosting a webinar on how companies can file petitions to exclude products from the lists and receive a refund on tariffs paid to date. 

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