WASHINGTON — China will impose tariffs on 148 categories starting Saturday in an apparent response to international pressure to control its apparel and textile exports.
The move coincides with the elimination of the remaining vestiges of a 30-year-old quota system among World Trade Organization member countries.
The Chinese government said it will levy duties ranging from 2.4 cents to 3.6 cents per piece or per set of clothing, and 6 cents per kilogram for parts or accessories. Among the targeted export categories are T-shirts, underwear, nightwear and robes, outerwear, trousers, blouses and tracksuits. (See related table below.)
China exported $139.1 million in cotton trousers to the U.S. for the year ended Oct. 31. China could conceivably collect $3.3 million to $5 million in tariffs in that category alone. Similarly, imports of cotton dressing gowns from China totaled $132.1 million during the first 10 months of the year. Chinese tariffs would range from $3.1 million to $4.8 million.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce caught industry observers off guard in mid-December when it announced it would tax its own exports. Lobbyists and industry executives said the move was meant to demonstrate the country is controlling its industry’s growth in commodity products and to assuage global fears that its apparel exports will decimate industries around the world and imperil some 30 million jobs in the developing world when quotas are lifted.
Industry veterans also have speculated that China made the move to recoup some of the revenue it will lose when the quota system expires and quota charges are dropped. Quotas have long been traded as a commodity in countries such as China, with prices rising as product categories began to be filled by the end of the year.
Executives reacting to the recent export tariff list claimed that, although the tariffs are relatively miniscule, they add to the overall cost of the garment and eat into profit margins.
In the long run, the tariffs are not expected to curtail the overall massive growth in China’s apparel exports, although they could discourage price slashing and encourage the Chinese to focus on better merchandise. U.S. importers and retailers said unexpected additional costs are difficult to absorb, but claimed the tariffs would not force them to pull business out of China.“For some commodity items, that tariff could be quite a bit,” said Wendy Wieland Martin, vice president for international trade at Kellwood Co. “If someone is bringing in underwear or panties and paying $2 per garment, another couple of cents is another couple of cents.”
She conceded, however, that in the overall scheme of things, the tariffs “probably won’t mean a lot” to the bottom line.
Brenda Jacobs, counsel for the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, said, “Every little bit is a piece of margin. It sounds small when you talk about the singular, but you have to think about the quantities people are dealing with and that is where the concern is.”
U.S. textile and fiber producers, on the other hand, are skeptical of China’s action, claiming the tariffs would have to be much higher to offset the advantages conferred upon Chinese exporters by the nation’s fixed exchange rate and tax-rebate programs.
Industry executives, both domestic and international, have suggested China made the move to discourage the U.S. and European Union from taking more aggressive action against its exports in the form of safeguard quotas. The U.S. is currently reviewing 12 petitions and is set to make its first rulings in early February.
Categories Included in China Tariff Plan
WASHINGTON — China released a list of 148 apparel export categories on which it will impose tariffs ranging from $.024 to $.036 per piece or per set of clothing and $.06 per kilogram for parts or accessories, beginning Saturday. The following is a partial list of the targeted products:
Knits (women’s and men’s):
Cotton and man-made fiber T-shirts.
Cotton and man-made fiber underwear.
Cotton and man-made fiber slips and petticoats.
Cotton and man-made fiber underwear.
Cotton and man-made fiber dressing gowns and robes.
Cotton and man-made fiber suits, blazers, trousers and skirts.
Wool, cotton and man-made fiber overcoats, capes and cloaks.
Rayon, Tencel, silk and vegetable fiber trousers.
Wovens (women’s and men’s):
Wool, cotton and man-made fiber overcoats and raincoats.
Wool, cotton and man-made fiber suits, blazers and dresses.
Wool, cotton and man-made fiber dress shirts and blouses.
Cotton and man-made fiber underwear, pajamas, nightwear and robes.
Man-made fiber and cotton slips and petticoats.
Man-made fiber tracksuits, ski suits, and swimwear.
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)