'This is the wrong time to have tariffs:' CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association

·3-min read

Many Americans and U.S. businesses are waiting with bated breath as lawmakers continue to hash out a new round of COVID-19 stimulus. Stephen Lamar, CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, joined Yahoo Finance to weigh in on the state of the retail industry in the U.S.

“Stimulus is very important. President Trump, I think, tweeted last week, ‘Go big or go home.’ Our attitude is that going home is not an option. It’s really just, ‘Go big.’ They need to stay in Washington; they need to get their job done.”

Lamar tells Yahoo Finance that lawmakers should not look at stimulus as a “one-and-done” deal. The trade group CEO is also advocating for additional rounds of stimulus in the coming months.

“We’re talking about the second bill. We should be talking about the third, the fourth, the fifth. We need to stay at the job. We have to sustain the economy until it can sustain itself.”

Lamar also says that managing COVID-19 on the state and local levels is crucial until a vaccine is available.

“COVID is not under control. It’s not being managed very well. We need to keep the COVID management better because that’s ultimately going to be our path out of our economic problems until we can get a vaccine. And until that happens, we have to keep the economy supported, whether it’s workers, it’s consumers, it’s employers, or states and local governments.”

Lamar reminds Yahoo Finance that China is still the number one supplier to the U.S. market, and with trade war tariffs still in place, that could hurt U.S. industries and consumers this holiday season.

“We still have tariffs on a wide variety of products, a wide variety of apparel, footwear travel goods. Keep in mind, China is still our number one supplier to the U.S. market. And a majority of those products are still seeing tariffs. We have a number of programs that are due to expire during the end of the year; if they expire, tariffs will come back in place.”

Lamar also notes that tariffs are even being charged on crucial PPE equipment needed in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We’re still charging tariffs on many items of personal protective equipment. We still have tariffs on reusable isolation gowns. Tariffs on masks are gonna go up incredibly.” he said.

American flag waving with the Capitol Hill in the background
American flag waving with the Capitol Hill in the background

“We have a lot of tariffs that we’re still paying ... This is the wrong time to have tariffs. We can be using those tariffs to pass along savings to consumers, to hire workers not to pay into these U.S. coffers like this.”

Despite the political discord and jockeying going on in Washington, Lamar says that there are signs of encouragement that prove that lawmakers could come together on a stimulus.

“Congress just passed legislation, that the president signed, unanimously to continue a trade program with Haiti. So that proves that they can get things done ... And we think that there’s some opportunity to do that as well on making sure that these tariffs don’t, co-op where that tariffs can come down, especially on items like masks and gowns so we’re hopeful that we can get that done during a lame duck session.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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