Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole testified on June 17 before the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on the unfavorable effects that Section 301 Tariffs of up to 25 percent on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods are expected to have on U.S. plumbing manufacturers, the economy, and consumers.
Dozens of plumbing-related products and components are included on List 4 – the most recent list, including toilets, sinks, shower heads, faucet handles, and more. The $300 billion list also includes vegetables, meat and cheese products, home appliances, bicycles, software, clothing, and tech items.
"These additional proposed tariffs will cause disproportionate harm to U.S. economic interests and in particular, plumbing manufacturers, our workers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and American consumers," stated Stackpole in his testimony. "Our members estimate they will incur millions of dollars annually in added direct costs and expenses if the List 4 duties are implemented, not to mention the millions of dollars of lost sales resulting from increased prices on these products. These are real dollars that will no longer be reinvested back into their companies and workforce."
Stackpole added that while PMI shares the administration's concern about China's policies and practices that have harmed U.S. businesses, PMI believes the proposed imposition of unilateral tariffs on Chinese imports will not address the underlying issues and will continue to invite Chinese retaliation.
In addition, several PMI members, including LIXIL, Spectrum Brands, Moen Incorporated and Water Pik Inc., are scheduled to testify to voice their objections to the proposed duties. Troy Benavidez, vice president of corporate affairs for American Standard, part of LIXIL Americas and a PMI member company, testified on June 17 and expressed his company's concern about how the tariffs may harm U.S. businesses and consumers.
"If plumbing products become more expensive and U.S. consumers reduce their purchases of these products and the plumbing services needed to install and maintain them, good paying careers in the plumbing trade will continue to decline," said Benavidez.
Concern for the damage the tariffs will cause was evident by the number of objections raised during the first day of the USTR hearings. More than 300 witnesses are expected to testify over the seven days of hearings in June, with representatives from sectors including semiconductors, energy, plumbing, software, home appliances, sports equipment, boat manufacturing, chemical firms, pet supplies, bicycles, and fireworks. More than 2,000 comments were submitted to the docket as of June 17. Post-hearing rebuttal comments on the fourth list of tariffs are due July 2.
In addition, PMI was one of 661 companies and associations that signed a coalition letter to President Trump opposing the tariffs.
PMI members produce 90 percent of all plumbing products in the U.S., and along with their retail and wholesale partners and suppliers, generate more than 271,000 good-paying jobs and over $10 billion dollars in wages annually. Overall, the industry contributes $85.5 billion dollars to the American economy – about four-tenths of 1 percent of America's gross domestic product, according to a 2018 PMI economic study of the industry.