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Toy Association Recaps D.C. Fly-In to Fight Tariffs on Chinese Imports


As the threat of additional tariffs on Chinese imports looms with the U.S.-China “tariff truce” scheduled to end on March 1, The Toy Association co-led a special Washington, DC fly-in event with the Americans for Free Trade Coalition last week. Over the course of two days, nearly two dozen toy industry executives joined other industry participants to urge government officials to oppose tariffs on Chinese imports and help small businesses across the country.


Representatives from member companies including LEGO, Hasbro, Mattel, Wicked Cool Toys, Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld, IELLO, Magformers, Spin Master, Feld Entertainment, Ferrero, as well as representatives from the Game Manufacturers Association were among the 120 participants in the fly-in meetings, held February 6 and 7. Company and association representatives from more than 20 different industries including fishing, retail, semiconductors, technology, apparel, footwear, restaurants, accessories, juvenile products, and others, shared their stories of how tariffs affect their businesses with over 150 congressional offices during that time.


“Toy manufacturers would have no choice but to raise prices if tariffs get implemented, which will result in consumers having to pay more for products,” said Michael Rinzler, co-founder of Wicked Cool Toys and fly-in participant. “Toy company sales would most definitely decline, which in turn would result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in our industry. There is no winning outcome here. The threat of tariffs is making it very difficult to manage our business currently – decisions on manufacturing, pricing, and future product planning are all up in the air.”


The Toy Association’s external affairs team has been ever-vigilant in advocating for and protecting members’ businesses. In 2018, the team ramped up its advocacy efforts to face this threat head on by playing a leading role in voicing the harmful effects about tariffs on toys by meeting with the Administration, key federal agencies, the U.S. Trade Representative, and on Capitol Hill. The Association led and participated in more than 50 meetings with key officials last year to illustrate how tariffs on toys could steal the joy of children’s holidays and birthdays by negatively impacting consumers and U.S. businesses.


“The fly-in was an important component of The Toy Association’s aggressive advocacy against tariffs that are in place and the threat of future tariffs. With an eye toward the March 1 deadline of a trade agreement between China and the U.S., The Toy Association’s proactive strategy has two objectives: prevent toys from being on any potential future list and to put the industry in the best position possible to seek product exclusions should we be on a future list,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.“With the help of engaged Association members, we ensured every congressional office heard toy industry concerns and calls for help. There is strength in numbers and this fly-in elevated awareness on Capitol Hill of the harmful effects of what are essentially taxes on not just toys and children’s products, but consumer goods of all kinds. The Toy Association will continue to fight on behalf of the entire toy community and our retail partners against current and potential future tariffs.”