The round of tariffs imposed on some $200 billion worth of goods imported from China went into effect in early September. The tariffs are currently at 10 percent but scheduled to kick up to 25 percent at the start of 2019, barring a deal with trade representatives from China. And as America heads into the holiday shopping season — a critical period for the retail industry — plenty of concerns abound about where consumers will be feeling the pinch.
The simple fact is that many shoppers aren’t familiar with what, exactly, they’re buying that’s coming from China. But that might change in a hurry if prices on some of the country’s favorite things jump just in time for Christmas. So, here’s a closer look at what things you love that might soon cost a lot more.
The new tariffs are filled with a variety different kinds of seafood that will be subjected to the tax, and although some might not have an enormous impact on Americans — it seems unlikely that a whole lot of Atlantic tuna is getting imported from China, but it’s on the list all the same — other fish are definitely still popular and could have a significant impact on what consumers are paying for their seafood. All told, the U.S. imported some $2.7 billion worth of fish and shellfish from China in 2017.
The U.S. imported some $14.1 billion worth of household appliances from China in 2017, many of which will fall under the new tariff regime. And that’s even before you consider the tariff on residential washing machines that helped boost the cost of the devices by 20 percent, on average, between April and June.
What’s more, if you’re thinking you can duck tariffs just by buying domestic, think again: The tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are likely to mean you’ll be paying more anyway.
Another offshoot of that tariff on steel and aluminum should hit Americans right in the gut. The beer gut, as it were. That’s because the cost of the aluminum cans that are the norm for beer, soda pop and a variety of other beverages is going to get more costly and take the price of a six-pack up with them. Estimates by the Beer Institute put the cost of the tariffs for the beer industry at $347.7 million and should cost the industry more than 20,000 jobs. That said, given that the can itself costs about 10 cents to make, even cans made entirely of imported aluminum (and most aren’t) are only going to cost brewers an additional penny after the tax.
Another source of higher prices for consumers that can be accounted to the tariffs on imported metal could come in the form of paying more for new cars. The 25 percent tariff on imported steel should add about $175 to the price of a $35,000 car, though it would vary depending on just how much steel is in the car’s design.
Toys, Games and Sporting Goods
Oh great, and just in time for the holidays. Although there currently aren’t any proposals for tariffs on imports from the North Pole, plenty of other fun stuff that might end up under the tree is imported from China and does appear headed for higher costs. The U.S. imported some $26.8 billion in toys, games and sporting goods in 2017, and the new tariffs include everything from baseball gloves to swing sets.
Not only will a lot of your favorite things cost more, the things you carry them in appear poised to increase in price. Not only are there a variety of categories of trunks, suitcases and bags included in the list of goods that will have tariffs slapped on them, but plenty of the materials domestic manufacturers might use to make them in-country are as well. All told, the U.S. imports more than $3 billion worth of luggage from China a year, and Samsonite has already warned vendors that tariffs will make them raise prices by 10 percent.
If you just had a kid, congratulations are in order! Also, expect everything you need for the new addition to your family to cost more.
Some $20.7 billion worth of furniture was imported from China in 2017 and a lot of it — including cribs, cradles, high chairs, booster seats and infant walkers — is getting hit by a 10 percent tariff that’s increasing to 25 percent in 2019. So, if your due date is in late December, either buy everything you need ahead of time or let that kid know they need to pop out on time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected “solar panel installer” to be the job with the largest percentage growth over the next decade — with the number of jobs more than doubling by 2026. However, that was before the Trump administration slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported Chinese solar panels earlier this year. And although that is slated to fall to just 15 percent by its fourth year, it’s still expected to increase the cost for residential solar installations by 3 percent and large solar farms by 10 percent.
Bah, humbug is right. Actually, humbugs aren’t listed on the goods that will fall under the new tariff regime, but items like wrapping paper and Christmas lights are included. That’s right, the real war on Christmas might be of the trade variety. In fact, a wide variety of lighting fixtures and parts — Christmas and otherwise — stand to take a hit under the new tax law.
In 2017, the U.S. imported some $45.5 billion worth of computers, $31.6 billion worth of computer accessories and $9.6 billion worth of semiconductors, and a big slice of that business looks to get hit by those tariffs. Included in the list of goods getting hit by new levies are all types of semiconductors — i.e. the chips that power our tech devices — which will likely translate to an additional $1.6 billion to $3.2 billion in costs for U.S. consumers.
Not Everyone Is Getting Hit: Apple and Other Companies Dodging Trump’s Tariffs
More to Come?
Of course, the current round of tariffs might not be the last of it. If the trade war continues to escalate, it might not be long before both countries have slapped taxes on almost everything passing over their borders. The U.S. imported $505.5 billion worth of goods from China in 2017, which would translate to over $125 billion in tariffs should the 25 percent rate be extended to all of them.
For context, that would be the entire cost of Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston last year, the second-costliest hurricane in American history. So, if the trade war continues, it could effectively be the economic equivalent of an additional Harvey-sized hurricane hitting the country every year.
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