Despite Reprieve, New Tariffs Will Hit Wide Range of Consumer GoodsAugust 16, 2019
WASHINGTON—President Trump may have scaled back tariffs on Chinese goods to spare holiday shoppers, but consumers are likely to feel the pinch anyway, economists and analysts say.
An array of apparel, electronics, watches and sporting goods from China will be hit with levies of 10% starting Sept. 1. The value of those and other products subject to the new tariffs totaled $111 billion last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
“It is not entirely accurate to label this a de-escalation,” said
managing director of the Cowen Washington Research Group. He likened the policy to telling someone: “I was going to break both of your arms on Sept. 1—now I am only going to break your elbow.”
Beijing wasn’t impressed by the ratcheting back of tariffs, either. On Thursday, an official with the State Council’s Customs Tariff Commission denounced the rise in tariffs and said “China would have no choice but to take necessary countermeasures.”
Mr. Trump did sideline tariffs on smartphones, laptops, toys and other Chinese imports valued last year at $156 billion, saying Tuesday that he wanted to soften the impact on consumers for the holiday season. But those tariffs are set to kick in Dec. 15, and meanwhile the U.S. will in two weeks be collecting tariffs on about $361 billion in Chinese imports—the levies on $111 billion worth of annual imports that starts Sept. 1 plus previous tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods.
Previous rounds of tariffs have largely spared consumers, with the administration targeting items like telecommunications equipment, metal alloys or mechanical devices that tend to be purchased by businesses.
That changes next month. About $33 billion in apparel, shoes and hats are among the items subject to a 10% tariff on Chinese imports beginning Sept. 1, according to a Journal analysis of data from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the Census Bureau.
The Sept. 1 list also includes about $27 billion in electronics. That includes a bevy of routine items ranging from wireless surveillance cameras to solid-state drives and some TVs, the Journal’s analysis found.
All told, 69% of consumer goods from China will be subject to tariffs starting Sept. 1—up from 29% currently, according to
a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for Economics.
Mr. Trump held off on imposing all the threatened tariffs following warnings from retailers who said the levies could dim prospects for the holiday shopping season, the Journal has reported. The retreat also came as financial markets shuddered over fears that the U.S.-China trade war could put the global economy in a funk.
In determining which tariffs to postpone, one factor appears to have been the availability of alternatives to Chinese imports, according to the Journal analysis. A review of the tariff list indicates that tariffs were…