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Tapestry tables tariff exemption request for leather handbags

Leathergoods and footwear group Tapestry has made a formal request to the US Trade Representative that leather handbags imported into the US from China be exempt from a proposed increase in tariffs.

The parent group of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman has argued that proposed tariffs of 25% should not be applied to bags and other small leathergoods made in China because the products often use leather made from US hides.

Its request has won support from the US Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA), whose president, Stephen Sothmann, has written a letter to the trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, to back Tapestry up.
In the letter, Mr Sothmann explained that approximately 95% of US wet salted and wet blue cattle hides go for export, with China importing more than 50% of total US production. In 2018, the US exported more than $700 million worth of cattle hides, pig skins, and semi-processed leather products to China’s leather and footwear manufacturing industries, and Mr Sothmann pointed out that 26,000 people in the US have employment through processing hides, making wet blue or supplying those sectors with leather chemicals and other ancillary products. 

He added that, as a major by-product of the cattle and meat industry, the consumption of US hides and skins in handbags and other leather products around the world provides additional income directly to US farmers. “With very little manufacturing of these goods taking place in the US,” he said, “it is incumbent upon us to maintain open, viable export markets for these products.”

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