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That outdoor gear you need to enjoy everything Colorado has to offer could soon cost a lot more

Outdoor industry says Trump tariffs are to blame
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 20:49:25-04

DENVER -- Colorado is known for its outdoors, and soon the gear you need to enjoy it could cost a lot more if proposed new tariffs by the Trump administration take effect.

New numbers from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) show outdoor companies and consumers have paid $1.1 billion since the first round of tariffs were imposed in September 2018.

"We are unable to control our prices by natural growth, somebody else is telling us what we have to pay taxes on now," said Mike Mitchell, director of operations at BOCO, a custom hat retailer based in Boulder.

Most of the hats they sell have already been slapped with a 25 % tariff.

"Just completely unmanageable for our industry," said Patricia Rojas-Ungar, vice president of government affairs for the Outdoor Industry Association. "A large majority of our companies are small businesses."

Small businesses could see more tariffs on just about everything the industry gets from China: ski jackets, camping chairs, climbing gear — you name it. The OIA estimates outdoor retailers could have to pay an extra $1.5 billion a month. An added cost that will eventually be passed onto consumers through higher prices.

"The price point for that product becomes potentially prohibitive for the consumer and that's why it matters," said Rojas-Ungar.

"We've absorbed as much as we can," said Mitchell. "With these tariffs, we are essentially getting a tax on our products coming in — harder and harder to absorb and something has to give down the road here. Where it's gonna go out? To the consumer."

"We're going to have to raise our prices," said Kim Miller, CEO of Boulder Based Scarpa North America.

Miller sells just any outdoor shoe a consumer could need. He said the biggest issue is the uncertainty and worries the proposed tariffs could ruin the world of outdoor retail and cost consumers at the store.

"It's not good, it's not good. It will stifle and slow down what I think has been a very great trend in outdoor recreation," he said.

The largest outdoor trade show in the country is being held in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center this week, and tariffs have been a big topic of the conversation among companies in attendance.

"It's really going to be harmful to the everyday American," said Rojas-Ungar.

Hiking boots are one of the products that would be hit hardest, if the new proposed tariffs take effect. The industry said hiking boots from China already come with a 37.5% duty, the tariffs would add an additional 25% — which would create a more than 60% tariff on hiking boots imported from China into the United States.

"What's making things even more troubling is now we're facing a new list of products that will get hit. All outdoor apparel, outdoor hiking boots," further explained Rojas-Ungar.

Last month, many of the tariffs impacting outdoor retailers increased from 10% to 25%, which the industry said will more than double the tariff burden. Additionally, the Trump administration has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion products, which include most outdoor products imported from China.

In addition to the List 3 tariffs already in place, the administration has also threatened, but not yet imposed, tariffs on an additional $300 billion or “List 4” products at a rate of 25%.