Despite a flurry of recent positive activity on the trade front, the US recreational boating industry continues to face what the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) calls “serious challenges”.

In a trade update to its members, NMMA wrote: “While NMMA is encouraged with the recent ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) and the initial Phase One Trade Agreement with China, more work is needed to remove tariffs and ensure the recreational boating industry can continue to grow.”

Despite the progress with USMCA; which was previously approved by Mexico, signed by President Trump, as expected to receive Canadian approval in the coming days; and US moves cancelling new tariffs against China that were to take effect in December and reducing list 4A tariffs from 15% to 7.5%, Trump’s extension of the 25% tariffs on some US$250bn of Chinese products hits boatbuilders where they live – affecting more than 400 component parts used in manufacturing.

Retaliatory tariffs continue to be a concern for the boating industry, particularly from the European Union. The EU continues to impose a 25% retaliatory tariff on US boat and engine exports. NMMA has urged the administration to strike a trade deal with the EU that would end the retaliatory tariffs and reduce additional barriers to trade.

Among the other glimmers of good news, last month the Trump administration granted exclusions for certain wake sport boat tow towers, bringing the total number of marine tariff exclusions granted to 15. The exclusion process for products on List 4A remains open until Friday, 31 January, 2020.