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New wave of tariffs on outdoor gear might hit recreation industry hard

By Cara MacDonald, KSL.com | Posted - May 19th, 2019 @ 6:05pm



WASHINGTON — A new wave of Chinese import tariffs will likely hit the outdoor recreation industry hard, impacting the costs of gear for both retailers and customers.

The Trump administration recently created a proposed list of Chinese imports worth $300 billion that could be hit with tariffs of up to 25 percent as a result of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, according to NPR.

“President Trump says China unfairly subsidizes its industries, doesn't respect intellectual property rights and makes it difficult for U.S. companies to compete in China's market. And he wants to see a large trade imbalance — which last year ran to a record $419.2 billion — begin to shrink,” NPR reported.

The list, published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, contained Chinese goods which might be hit with new duties, according to NPR. Items affected range from brushes and paint rollers to ski boots and other sporting goods.

A variety of outdoor and athletic equipment and clothing items may be impacted, ranging to anything from ski boots to fishing rods, Outside Online reported. These items could all be subject to a 25 percent tariff as soon as June.

“It’s going to have a huge impact (on the outdoor recreation industry),” Nick Sargent, director of the Snowsports Industries of America, told KSL.com. “For example, if a retailer buys a $100 pair of gloves with a 25 percent tariff on top of that, now they have to pay $125. That’s going to have a huge impact on the retailer who is going to be buying that product from the wholesaler.”

He added that the increased tariff is going to come at a cost to the retailer who’s going to have to pay the extra tariffs to receive the products from overseas. “If the retailer takes that tariff, they’re going to pass that directly to the consumer,” Sargent said.

“The consumer then has to make a decision— do I need it or can I live without it? If they can live without it that retailer is going to have a hard time selling that product,” he continued. “If they get to the end of the season and still have a ton of that product, they’re going to have to close it out.”

Sargent predicts that if the next winter doesn’t yield a lot of snow, customers may be deciding whether paying to ski and buy the equipment is worth it, or if they should wait until the next year. Sargent says “it will certainly have an effect” on outdoor equipment retailers.

"When the time is right, we will make a deal with China," NPR reported Trump said Tuesday. "My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited, but, as I have told him many times before, this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn't make any sense."

The proposed list will enter a period of public comment before taking effect in late June or July, according to NPR. Sargent urged the public to take action if they want to avoid seeing added tariffs increasing the cost of their purchases.

“I don’t know how long these are going to last, but what I do know is that we have a period of time where we can go and testify to the trade commission and really work to get the tariffs removed off these product categories,” he said.

Snowsports Industries of America has a page on its website with advice and resources for reaching out to politicians for public comment. “I certainly urge people to use their voice even if they think it won’t matter, because it all matters,” Sargent concluded.

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