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Apparel trade group chief on Trump: 'The Grinch didn't do us any favors'

Reggie Wade
Writer

"The Grinch didn't do us any favors." These were the words of President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association Rick Helfenbein, referring to President Trump and the administration’s latest move in the ongoing trade war with China.

A tariff of 10% was set to be levied on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting September 1. However, the President instructed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to delay the implementation until December 15 — seemingly giving shoppers a reprieve from added cost during the holiday season.

The move brought temporary relief for many in the footwear and apparel industry Mr. Helfenbein included. He was a guest on Yahoo Finance's "On the Move," and spoke about the confusing nature of the tariff claims made by the Trump administration.

"When the first announcement came I was very happy, then an hour and a half later I was very upset, I actually thought that the Grinch had saved Christmas but when the list came out … 77% of what we sell is being hit on September 1."

Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO, AAFA attends American Apparel & Footwear Association's 40th Annual American Image Awards 2018 on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for AAFA)

The AAFA found that approximately $39 billion worth of goods would still be hit with tariffs on September 1. That accounts for 77% of all apparel, footwear, and home textile products imported to the U.S. from China. The remaining 23% or $12 billion worth of goods would be hit with tariffs on December 15.

The AAFA president says that back to school shoppers will be hit especially hard by these additional tariffs.

"The number 1 back to school item is backpacks — they are now tariffed, right now at 25%. I went to the stores and backpacks that were $40 last year are now $55."

According to Helfenbein tariffs will definitely put a damper on this upcoming holiday season.

"I know President Trump loves the holiday season, but I also know he loves his figgy pudding strategy, the one that says: 'Bring me some tariffs and bring them right now' so our holiday season is messed up.”


Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade .

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