Fly fishing trade group sharply denounces Trump administration's tariff increases

Costs of China trade war will be paid by anglers, AFFTA says
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Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR / cc2.0.

Joining the chorus of voices condemning the Trump administration's ongoing trade war with China, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) recently released a statement denouncing the administration's decisions as "unfair" and "harmful" to the $1 billion fly fishing industry, an industry whose backbone, AFTTA says, is small and medium-sized businesses.

The statement, from AFFTA CEO Ben Bulis, also chided the Trump administration for handing off the costs of tariffs to anglers. Though Trump regularly and falsely makes public proclamations indicating that China is paying U.S.-levied tariffs, economists and policy makers have repeatedly tried to set the record straight by explaining that tariffs on goods and materials imported from China are paid by the U.S. companies that import those goods, which then pass those costs onto the U.S. consumer in the form of higher prices.

Bulis wrote, "From specialty retail shops, guides and outfitters to the manufacturers who develop and produce the gear that they rely on for their livelihood, we are a significant part of our nation’s powerful and growing outdoor economy, contributing more than $1 billion annually. This increase in tariffs, on top of the already harmful tariffs imposed over the past 10 months, will only make it more difficult and costly for our industry’s businesses and the local economies that rely on them to stay viable. The increase will further stifle innovation, force unfair and highly expensive production changes, inhibit the free market and freeze, or worse, cut employment ... Even further, this increase will saddle American consumers, including over 10 million fly anglers, with the true pass-through cost of the tariffs above-and-beyond the $69 billion they’ve already paid over the last 10 months in the form of significantly more expensive goods and services."

AFFTA's statement joins similar critiques and alerts from other outdoor-industry trade groups such as the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

In a letter addressed directly to Trump, OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts said the ongoing trade war with China has "severely inhibited the ability of outdoor companies to grow their businesses," adding that "additional tariffs, particularly on apparel and footwear, will deliver a devastating blow to the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and the 7.6 million American jobs it supports."

A policy alert recently sent out by ASA warned that the latest round of tariffs would impact a wide range of fishing products, including—but not limited to—fishing rods, reels, lines, leaders, hooks, lures, flies and nets.

Bulis, in closing, called on the Trump administration "to reach a trade agreement as quickly as possible that will end this unfair and unnecessary threat to an immensely valuable small business sector and an undeniably strong and growing outdoor economy. The livelihoods of hardworking Americans should not be used as a bargaining chip."