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This week’s tariff hearings: Big outcry that fell on deaf ears?

Tariffs

As reported Monday on TradeOnlyToday.com, three members of the boating industry testified this week at a U.S. Trade Representative Hearing regarding the Trump Administration’s proposed 10 to 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imported products. Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA’s senior vice president of government and legal affairs, testified Monday, while representatives from Magic Tilt Trailers and Sea Eagle Boats testified later in the week.

In July, more than 300 marine products including engines, propellers, antennae and navigation equipment were on the original list of U.S. tariffs implemented in July. Yesterday, a second group of tariffs went into effect, and China quickly instituted its own retaliatory tariffs. This week’s hearings have been about the third round of proposed tariffs which could come as soon as September.

“The hearings went well in that we had an opportunity to air our concerns,” Vasilaros told TradeOnlyToday.com “Overwhelmingly, the business leaders and manufacturers who testified were opposed to the tariffs.”

The committee, said Vasilaros, seemed to not be focusing on the impact of the tariffs to U.S. business, but instead continued to ask companies if they could produce their products outside of China. “The committee asked over and over if companies could just make their products somewhere else,” she says. “Most explained that it was not that easy. But we continued to get that same theme in their questions for four days.”

The latest list could possibly be the most detrimental to the boating industry. It includes boats of all sizes, trailers and all trailer components, and fiberglass. “Right now, aluminum builders are getting hit with tariffs, but that could now impact fiberglass boat builders, since a significant number source fiberglass from China,” says Vasilaros. “Every layer and component of a boat is now being impacted.”

The hearings wrap up Monday. Vasilaros said items on the next set of tariffs should be available in September. She added only five items from hundreds on the original list were exempted.

“If the President wants to bring back manufacturing, he needs to find a better way to do it,” says Vasilaros. “These tariffs are definitely not helping U.S. businesses and manufacturers.” 

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