'This is a health crisis that’s become a business crisis,' American Apparel & Footwear Association CEO

As most global industries battle with COVID-19, clothing and footwear manufacturers and retailers say they’re now fighting a two-front war — one against the coronavirus and another against tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in 2019.

Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AADA), joined Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move” to discuss tariffs and how the industry is responding to the coronavirus and its impact on the supply chain. 

“This is a health crisis that’s become a business crisis,” Lamar said, and its hurting industry group members. “They’re home, they don’t have access to revenue, and without access to revenue, they don’t have access to that cash flow.”

Overview of a large industrial distribution warehouse storing products in cardboard boxes on conveyor belts and racks.

He believes on top of the Congressional stimulus package, retailers and manufacturers need tariff relief. “This could come in the form of simply deferring the payments, for 90 days, or providing refunds of items like the crucial medical equipment that they’re currently air freighting into the United States,” Lamar said. “These are very common-sense measures that would not only help with the health crisis but also help these companies manage the business crisis they’re facing.”

Lamar tells Yahoo Finance that even though factories in China have gotten back up and running, the lack of retail spending in the U.S. and Europe has turned supply chains back off, potentially “burning a permanent hole in our supply chain and having a profound negative effect on many businesses.” 

“They don’t have the ability to pay their employees, and that’s again one of the reasons we’ve been looking for every tool in the toolbox, whether it’s the stimulus package coming from Congress, whether it’s tariff relief coming from the administration. So we can put that at work and help our members have the cash so they can keep their employees on the payroll.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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