The U.S. federal government just cut motorcyclists a break. The United States Trade Representative recently announced that Chinese-made helmets are not affected by recent trade tariffs, which should result in better pricing for riders.
The issue goes back to 2019’s tariff wars, when the U.S. government started scrapping with other countries over trade deals. The back-and-forth resulted in the U.S. and its global trade competitors levying tariffs on each other, and the motorcycle industry seemed to be singled out for particular targeting. As part of the general financial mayhem, the feds included made-in-China helmets when levying tariffs on motorcycle products coming out of that country.
That’s changing, finally, after months of lobbying. The Motorcycle Industry Council worked with the USTR and the United States International Trade Commission, as well as other agencies and policy makers, to get this decision reversed. The MIC says this was because the tariffs affected riders in the U.S., not the companies making the helmets.
“Tariffs are additional taxes paid by American consumers and businesses, not by China,” said MIC big boss Erik Pritchard. You can debate about the truthiness of that aspect, but one thing’s for sure: no tariffs means retailers can reduce their expenses when purchasing Chinese-built helmets, and that’s timely news. In theory, it makes it easier for riders to buy new protective gear.
“May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, so we are pleased that the USTR has decided to exclude additional taxes on motorcycle helmets," said Pritchard. “Safety equipment must remain affordable and readily available to all riders.”
As a result of the policy change, the MIC is advising importers who paid tariffs on made-in-China helmets to look into getting a refund from the feds. Will that trickle down to customers who’ve already bought those helmets? As Aerosmith so fittingly sang, “Dream on!”
At least the U.S. industry has one less expense to worry about going forward, although it might be silly to expect helmet prices to drop. The full impact from COVID-19 still going to have an effect on moto equipment MSRPs, and that could take a while to work out.