Kids who take up baseball or softball as well as anyone remodeling their kitchen, dealing with a flat bicycle tire or getting a dog could be caught in the crosshairs of the Trump administration’s latest salvo in the global trade war.
On Tuesday, the White House announced plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods after a public comment period. That means the tariffs could take effect sometime after Aug. 30, a month before U.S. retailers, many of them struggling, start the all-important fourth quarter leading up to the holiday shopping season.
This latest announcement of tariffs — essentially taxes charged on goods coming into the country — follows steep tariffs already announced on imported goods like washing machines and solar panels in January, and tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese exports earlier this month. China retaliated with its own list of tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. goods.
But unlike the earlier actions by the U.S. and China — which hit manufacturers and most notably in Illinois, soybean farmers, particularly hard — the latest effort takes direct aim at plenty of food products and finished consumer goods. Unless manufacturers or retailers are willing to swallow the extra costs themselves, they’ll be passed along to shoppers in the form of higher prices. A case in point: Shortly after the U.S. imposed tariffs on imported washing machines, South Korea’s LG Electronics said it would raise prices on most front- and top-loading washing machines sold in the U.S. by 4 to 8 percent.
Gene Amromin, director of financial research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said if the tariffs move from negotiating tactic to reality, it’s a matter of time before they affect the consumer’s wallet.
“I would imagine that business would not be passing on the cost to consumers, at least not right away, but at some sense it’s inevitable,” he said. “At some point you have to pass it along to consumers.”
Amromin said he’s more concerned that the trade barriers could disrupt the supply chains for various products, as companies consider switching production to different countries or potentially pare back their investment plans.
The new list of more 6,031 items that could be subject to a tariff fills 194 pages. Here are 20 common consumer products on the list:
• Seafood, including some types of tilapia, cod, haddock, trout, salmon and swordfish.
• Dog leashes, muzzles and collars.
• Inner tubes for cars and bicycles.
• Pneumatic tires for buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles and bicycles.
• Bicycle speedometers.
• Vinyl floor tile.
• Plastic ponchos costing less than $10.
• Golf bags of leather or composite leather.
• Baseball and softball mitts and batting gloves.
• Artificial fire logs.
• Stainless steel sinks.
• Window and wall air-conditioning units.
• Refrigerators and freezers.
• Toilet paper.