Shoes are displayed for sale outside a store in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Footwear Industry Slams Trump's Claims Canadians Smuggle Shoes

(Bloomberg) -- For those waiting for the other shoe to drop as U.S.-Canadian trade tensions tighten, it may just have.

The U.S. footwear industry’s business and trade association is firing back after President Donald Trump on Tuesday alleged that America’s northern neighbors sneak shoes across the border to avoid tariffs.

“The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in,” Trump said during remarks at the National Federation of Independent Business. “They buy shoes and they wear them. They scuff them up.”

The president is “misinformed” and Canadians have no real reason to smuggle in shoes because their government is already helping lower their costs through trade deals, Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in an emailed statement.

If Trump is concerned about treating American footwear companies and consumers fairly, then he should have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership to lower footwear costs in the U.S., Priest said. Nafta, meanwhile, hasn’t benefited consumers in America, he said.

Tensions with Canada and other trade partners have surged as Trump seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement while imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, prompting retaliatory levies.

“On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America,” Priest said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

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