Bah humbug! Trump's plan for more China tariffs to hit festive shoppers
By Jason Lange, Chris Prentice and David Lawder
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) - This year's holiday
season could be tighter for many Americans if the U.S.
government imposes tariffs on another $300 billion worth of
Chinese imports - because that will include tech products, game
consoles, toys, cribs, ornaments and Santa hats.
The tariffs would add 25% to the import cost of these and
many other consumer items just as retail outlets throughout the
world's largest economy begin to gear up for the peak
end-of-year shopping season.
Consumers have been largely shielded until now from the
direct impact of the trade war between China and the United
States as the administration of President Donald Trump has
focused previous rounds of tariffs on imports sold to
manufacturers rather consumers.
But Trump is escalating the trade war and preparing to
extend tariffs to nearly all Chinese imports after talks for a
deal broke down in May. The U.S. government is pushing for
wide-ranging economic and trade reforms from Beijing.
Trump said he would decide whether to trigger the next round
of tariffs after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the
G20 summit in Japan later this month.
In preparation for the new round, the U.S. Trade
Representative's Office (USTR) on Monday began seven days of
hearings for testimony from retailers, manufacturers and others
impacted. Thousands of business filed comments to the USTR ahead
of the hearings.
Toys, phones and televisions are all on the tariff list
and represent some of the most valuable categories of products
that Americans buy from China, according to a Reuters analysis
of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The new tariffs would hit cellphones whose import bill from
China totaled $43 billion in 2018 - more than 80% of total
They would also cover a broad set of toys, including
scooters and doll carriages, whose imports totaled $11.9 billion
last year. China supplied about 85% of America's total imports
of those toys.
Further pain for parents could come in the form of proposed
levies on more than $5 billion worth of video game consoles.
Chinese imports amounted to 98% of total U.S. imports of those
consoles last year.
And U.S. imports from China of targeted Christmas products -
including ornaments, nativity scenes and Christmas tree lights -
totaled at least $2.3 billion last year.
An executive from a family-owned, Christmas goods supplier
in upstate New York said the company has looked "long and far"
to find another supplier for many typical holiday products.
"However, trying to find other countries to manufacture
everything else, from Santa hats, to stockings, to glass
ornaments, has been a struggle and we have been unable to do
so," Nathan Gordon of Gordon Companies Inc in Cheektowaga said
in public comments posted on June 12.
HE'S MAKING A LIST
Some products previously spared by the Trump administration
to avoid hitting consumers' pockets are now on the list. That
includes an array of safety and play equipment for children -
including high chairs, play pens, and swings.
The proposed tariffs would hit at least $800 million of
Smart watches, smart speakers and Bluetooth audio are also
included. The Consumer Technology Association estimates that
2018 imports in this category from China were up to $17.9
Retailers Walmart Inc, Target Corp, and more
than 600 other companies urged Trump in a letter last week to
resolve the trade dispute with China, saying tariffs hurt
American businesses and consumers.
Worry over potential cost increases for Americans from
tariffs has raised concern about inflation, though across the
economy, prices rises remain below the U.S. Federal Reserve
target of 2%.
Trump has said that China pays the tariffs, but U.S.
importers actually foot the bill and either pass them on to
consumers or suppliers.
(Reporting by Jason Lange and David Lawder in Washington and
Chris Prentice in New York
Editing by Simon Webb and Rosalba O'Brien)
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