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Industry troops to Washington to testify against latest tariff proposal

Published June 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Days after the Trump administration's tariff on most Chinese bike products was increased from 10% to 25%, representatives from the bike industry spoke at a hearing in the nation’s capital in hopes of fending off the administration's final proposed tariff, which would apply to virtually all remaining Chinese products not included in the earlier rounds. 

The “List 4” tariffs would apply to $300 billion in Chinese goods, including bike helmets and lights, which were exempted from List 3 on safety grounds. It also would apply to balance bikes and some other accessories that were left off List 3 (See our explainer: Tariffs, how we got here).

At a hearing last week before the multiagency Section 301 Committee, executives representing Bell Sports, Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, PeopleForBikes, Quality Bicycle Products, Strider Sports International, Trek Bicycle Corporation and Specialized Bicycle Components prepared and delivered testimony. Bike industry members made similar appearances before the committee earlier this year and in 2018 when Lists 1,2 and 3 were being considered.

President Donald Trump plans to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit this week, possibly leading to a delay in implementation of the new tariffs. 

"For these companies, taking the time to testify against this most recent round of proposed tariff increases is critical to keeping the industry's concerns elevated before the U.S. Trade Representative," said Morgan Lommele, PeopleForBikes' director of state and local policy. "We're hopeful that the collective testimonies will lead to some relief for bike companies of all sizes who sell products in the U.S."

Matt Moore, general counsel at QBP, said, "The bicycle industry has, unfortunately, been impacted by every skirmish in these ongoing trade wars ... Paying these tariffs is cutting into our sales and profits, and stunting efforts to grow our industry and innovate new products."

Particular attention was paid to the safety threat posed by tariff increases on products like bike helmets and lights. Both helmets and lights were included in a third round of tariff increases on Chinese imports (introduced in July 2018), then exempted following the testimony period. However, Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes for both items were once again included on the proposed product list for the latest round of tariff increases announced in May.

The testimonies also highlighted the potential detriment to youth participation in bike riding that may result from a 25% tariff increase on balance bikes. 

Strider Bikes founder Ryan McFarland was among those who testified. "Strider is a very small company compared to many of the companies testifying, so I knew my financial numbers would be small and unimpressive by comparison," McFarland said. "I tried to simply bring some passion and some heart for getting kids off digital screens and getting them outside and onto bikes. Hopefully the committee will see how this could improve the physical and financial health of our nation in the decades ahead."

Tariff hearings will conclude on Tuesday, followed by a three-week period open for responses to testimonies. Once this comment period concludes, a final list of product codes will be posted, along with a date for implementation of tariff increases.

Topics associated with this article: Tariffs

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