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Are tariffs taxes? CEO says yes when it comes to consumers

Blair Shiff

Two weeks ago, President Trump's tweet on tariffs sent retailers into an uproar.

The tweet announced an additional tariff of 10 percent that would be put on $300 billion of goods and products from China, and retailers as well as consumers seemingly panicked.

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) CEO Matt Priest said the uncertainty continues, despite Trump announcing they would delay rolling out the tariffs until Dec. 15.

"It was an implicit recognition that the American consumer will pay this," Priest told FOX Business' Lisa Claman on "The Claman Countdown." "The president has now admitted the consumers pay this, and so where do we go from here? How do we drive certainty into a marketplace that's so uncertain right now."

The first list that is going to be hit with the first round of tariffs in September is more diversified, according to Priest.

"There's really no rhyme or reason to why they make these decisions on which list gets hurt and which list gets delayed," Priest said. "Our members are so confused as to how this is going to play out."

Trump said he delayed the tariffs in order to not affect consumer spending during the Christmas shopping season.

"That tells you that [Trump] knows in his heart-of-hearts that American consumers pay duties," Priest said. "These are taxes. You add to the cost of a good coming across the border. That cost gets multiplied out and the American consumer pays more."

White House director of trade, Peter Navarro, insists these tariffs would not be passed on to the consumer, however. But Priest believes he's alone in that thinking. He used the example of the goods already hit with tariffs have started to see price increases.

"It's an unavoidable fact," Priest said. "The president has admitted it. This delay admits it."


Priest thinks the White House should stop this altogether and not tax American consumers with the goal of changing Chinese behavior.

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