iPhones and bras: Chinese imports Trump wants to tax next

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington. May 13, 2019 for an event. Trump has threatened to tax nearly every product China sends to the United States, or roughly $300 billion worth of goods. Doug Mills, The New York Times

The Trump administration can’t shield consumers from its trade war anymore.

Until now, President Donald Trump’s tariffs on a total of $250 billion in Chinese imports have largely hit intermediate and capital goods — items typically bought by businesses, not shoppers.

That will change if Trump follows through with his threat to tax nearly every product China sends to the United States, or roughly $300 billion worth of goods. The US trade representative Monday detailed a list of what would face a tax of as much as 25 percent, which includes nearly 4,000 product categories.

Trump said Monday that he had not yet decided whether to impose the tariffs, but his administration has begun the formal process necessary for the United States to make good on his threat.

Officials said the new batch of tariffs “covers essentially all products not currently covered” by Trump’s existing tariffs on Chinese imports, but the list “excludes pharmaceuticals, certain pharmaceutical inputs, select medical goods, rare earth materials and critical minerals.”

So what would get hit with tariffs? The list reads like a shopping list for Target or Walmart, including toys, shoes, coffee makers and watches. Smartphones, photocopiers and video game consoles will face a tax. Also included are guns, fireworks, backgammon, Christmas decorations, practical joke toys, furs (with or without paws) and merry-go-rounds.

The list includes nearly 40 Chinese import categories that Americans collectively spent $1 billion or more on in 2017, according to government statistics. The largest among those, at $44.5 billion, are cellphones, followed by laptops at $37.2 billion and toys at $12.2 billion.

Here’s a quick scan of other consumer favorites that will be subject to tariffs if Trump follows through:

HOUSEWARES

— Kitchenware

— LED lamps

— Flags

— Microwave ovens

— Curtains and drapes

— Coffee makers

— Hair dryers

— Bed linens

CLOTHING

— Sweaters

— Shoes, including golf shoes, boots, running shoes and other footwear

— Bras

— Gloves

— Sunglasses

— Wigs and facial hair made of human hair

— T-shirts

— Track suits

TECHNOLOGY

— Smartphones, like iPhones

— Flat-panel televisions

— Copiers and fax machines

— Video cameras

— Lithium ion batteries

— Keyboards

— Loudspeakers

SPORTING GOODS

— Golf clubs

— Water skis, surf boards and other water sport equipment

— Bicycle parts

— Fishing rods

— Military rifles, shotguns and their parts

— Rocket launchers and flame throwers

DRUGSTORE ESSENTIALS

— Greeting cards

— Artificial flowers

— Flashlights

— Pens

Trump has insisted that the tariffs will not raise prices for consumers, saying that China will bear the brunt of the taxes, a view that many economists dispute.

On Monday, Trump encouraged companies to avoid tariffs by moving production out of China and into the United States or a country like Vietnam. He said the next round of tariffs represented “a tremendous amount of money that would come into our country.”

Shifting production across borders would be difficult for some consumer-facing companies to do quickly, said Alan Detmeister, an economist at UBS and former head of the price and wage section at the Federal Reserve.

That means consumers could have little choice but to pay more for those goods, or buy fewer of them. It’s likely that the result will be higher consumer inflation. Goldman Sachs economists expect 25 percent tariffs on remaining Chinese goods could push up inflation — now at 1.6 percent on a core basis — by half a percentage point.

2019 New York Times News Service

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