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Trump wants us to leave China, but he's blocking the exit: retail trade group CEO

Valentina Caval

Every minute that passes $457,000 dollars is coming out of the U.S. economy because of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, according to American Apparel & Footwear Association CEO Rick Helfenbein.

“Our apparel and footwear Industries has been hit by tariffs” he told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. “Our industry resides in uncertain territory, with just one tweet, we are days away from a potential retail disaster.”

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning touting the success of his tariffs and the ‘major effect’ they are having on the China’s economy.

But Helfenbein does not see retail companies leaving China anytime soon.

“The administration is sending us a signal, they would like us to vacate China. That's the signal we get, but then they're also blocking all the roads out,” he said. “You look at the places that we would go, number one is Vietnam, number two is India, number three is Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Mexico. All have been under some sort of threat. So what are my retailers doing now? They're starting to throw their hands up in the air and say maybe I'll just tough it out in China.”

Trump’s tariff threats go far beyond China

While Trump’s trade war with China has rattled global markets and made headlines, the president has targeted other countries with tariffs, too.

Vietnam saw U.S. imports jump 36% this year, according to U.S. Census Bureau. But just last month, Trump threatened Vietnam with tariffs, telling local media that the country is “almost the single worst abuser of everybody.” Trade tensions escalated with India in June, when the country hit back at the U.S. with tariffs on American goods. In April, Mexico surpassed both Canada and China and became the biggest U.S. trade partner. And a month later, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports. Indonesia also landed on Trump’s tariff radar this month. The president considered imposing tariffs on 124 Indonesia products that are shipped to the U.S.

Meanwhile, some U.S. companies have started moving production out of China. Companies including Yeti, Crocs, and iRobot are shifting production to countries that include Vietnam, India, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to the Wall Street Journal. But not many companies are seen moving production back to the United States, which was the president’s goal.

“We would love to bring it back to the U.S. We can't. We don't have the factories. We don't have the workers. We don't have the ability to do it,” Helfenbein said. “So, unless everybody in America is gonna be walking around naked we're gonna have to go somewhere else to get the clothes. “

Valentina Caval is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.

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