The National Marine Manufacturers Association testified before the U.S. Trade Representative this morning, saying that the fourth proposed list of tariffs on Chinese goods would target lifesaving equipment, critical infrastructure materials, water-sports equipment and fishing gear.
“While NMMA appreciates the administration’s actions to target unfair trade practices and increase American competitiveness, we believe the sweeping imposition of high and compounding tariffs will have a detrimental impact on U.S. marine manufacturers and consumer products,” said NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs Nicole Vasilaros during her testimony today, according to her prepared remarks.
Taxing U.S. businesses that import products has done little to change Chinese practices, and Vasilaros said unfair practices are better addressed by bilateral trade agreements. “In particular, several products included on this proposed list are essential to maritime safety, and we implore the committee to remove those items,” Vasilaros said.
The Coast Guard estimates that 75 percent of accidents in 2017 involved drowning. Overall, life jacket wear rates remain low, and the industry encourages continued regulatory updates to improve overall design and wearability, Vasilaros said.
“A tax such as the one proposed here will only make it more expensive for consumers to purchase critical safety equipment,” she said. “Life jackets cost anywhere from $10 to $160, and a 25 percent tax on a family of four would result in a significantly greater financial burden. … Consumers may opt for cheaper options that are less wearable due to the tax, an unintended consequence I am sure the committee would seek to avoid.”
The proposed list also targets an array of fishing equipment, Vasilaros said, adding that 70 percent of boat trips involve fishing.
The NMMA is being joined on Capitol Hill by representatives from the outdoor recreation industry and members of the Tariffs Hurt The Heartland campaign, according to the NMMA.