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Industry speaks out against proposed tariffs

Published August 9, 2018
Representatives from Huffy, Specialized, QBP, ASE and Kent ask to speak at hearings on proposed 25 percent tariffs on a wide range of Chinese bike goods.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Industry members have been submitting comments to the U.S. Trade Representative opposing the Trump administration's proposed 25 percent tariff on $200 billion in Chinese products, which includes at least $1 billion in bike-related products.

This round of proposed tariffs includes all types of bikes, plus frames, wheels, helmets, tires, chains, hubs and more. It also applies to hand tools, fasteners and other products that are not specific to the bike industry but will impact it. 

Executives at Huffy, Specialized, QBP, ASE and Kent Bicycle have asked to speak before the interagency Section 301 Committee at hearings scheduled for later this month. In addition, representatives or employees of Bike Friday, Kuat Racks, Kenda Rubber, Achieva Rubber and the North American Bikeshare Association have all left comments opposed to the tariffs, although they have not requested to appear. 

The five executives who requested to speak all submitted the requests on behalf of their companies and as representatives of either PeopleForBikes or the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association. They are: Bill Smith, the CEO of Huffy; Bob Margevicius, executive vice president at Specialized; Matt Moore, general counsel at QBP; Pat Cunnane, the president and CEO of ASE, the owner of Performance bike shops and ASI; and Arnold Kamler, the chairman and CEO of Kent International. 

All the requests share similar language. For example Moore, who is a board member at BPSA, said he would "address whether the proposed tariffs on these bicycle product categories would further the U.S. Trade Representative’s goal of reducing the theft of intellectual property from the United States, and how a 10 percent tariff increase is likely to affect bicycle related businesses within the United States, including suppliers and distributors like QBP."

Kamler, who has opened a bike assembly plant in South Carolina, said he "will focus specifically on the impact the tariffs are likely to have on companies like Kent that are working to assemble, produce, and manufacture bicycles in the United States." He said his testimony "will address the likelihood that higher tariffs on bicycle parts and components, primarily imported under Harmonized Tariff Schedule heading 8714, will undermine these efforts and make it more difficult to create domestic bicycle manufacturing jobs."

Kuat's Bill Kaufman, who did not request to appear, wrote, "This proposed tariff increase will potentially cripple a growing business in Missouri." He said his company has grown to have 27 employees and that all Kuat's tooling has been created and is held at its partner factory in China. "We have built a sustainable, rapidly growing business in Missouri. We have achieved this through design, customer service and quality assembly from our partners in China. We are home to many young men and women who are achieving their goals financially and professionally. Before the proposed tariff increase, we had plans for continued growth to 40+ full time employees here in Springfield over the next few years. This tariff will have a negative impact on our business and stunt our growth as it will result in profit loss due to an increased cost for our product. Please consider a denial on this tariff, or at the minimum a gradual release allowing more time for businesses like ours to adapt."

Currently there are about 15 comments visible on Regulations.gov that are from the bike industry regarding this round of proposed tariffs. However there may have been more comments submitted. There is a several day delay between submitting a comment and having it appear publicly on the site. The USTR will not post comments that contain private trade information and also weeds out those that appear to be coming from automated campaigns. PeopleForBikes said several hundred people submitted comments through the PeopleForBikes website in opposition to the earlier round of proposed tariffs, which included e-bikes. That effort was unsuccessful as the e-bike tariff was approved and takes effect Aug. 23

Those who want to leave comments can do it via the PeopleForBikes website or directly at Regulations.gov. Comments are being accepted until Aug. 17. 

Topics associated with this article: Trade/tariffs

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