PPAI has joined more than 60 trade associations and companies in signing onto a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer opposing new punitive tariffs on imports from Vietnam. The USTR has initiated two Section 301 investigations on Vietnam’s acts, policies and practices related to illegal timber and currency valuation.

The letter notes that its signatories agree that U.S. trading partners must abide by global trade rules, and they support the administration’s efforts to address unfair trading practices. However, it notes that the administration has tools other than tariffs to address these concerns. “The possible imposition of new punitive duties on U.S. imports from Vietnam will only cause further supply-chain disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the administration’s goal can be achieved without taxing American consumers and American workers.”

Since 2016, Vietnam has grown to become the second largest supplier of apparel, footwear and travel goods into the U.S. market, and as U.S. companies pursue diversification strategies away from China, it has become a more important part of the supply chain. The letter explains, “Imposing new punitive tariffs on U.S. imports from Vietnam would cause extreme disruption, directly threatening those investments and increasing prices for hard-working American families at the register or costs on the supply chains that directly support millions of American jobs.”

The letter also says, “We remain concerned about the escalation of tariff wars. We know firsthand from the experience with China over the last several years that additional tariffs will have a significant, negative and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families and the U.S. economy. Broadly applied tariffs are not an effective tool to change a trading partner’s unfair trade practices. Tariffs are taxes paid directly by American companies, including those listed below, their American workers and American consumers. We do not believe this is the time to impose new costs on U.S. supply chains, particularly on American job creators who are still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, new punitive tariffs could make it even harder to source the personal protective equipment (PPE) that our communities need to safely regrow the economy.”