Hundreds of companies began queuing up to testify in Washington on Monday for seven days of hearings on the Trump administration's proposal to jack up tariffs on Chinese imports. A common theme of their testimony: Americans would feel the pinch on everything from mobile phones and laptops to apparel, fireworks and Christmas ornaments.
President Donald Trump has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. The goal, according to U.S. trade officials, is to stop China from forcing U.S. companies to reveal trade secrets, stealing intellectual property and unfairly subsidizing Chinese tech companies.
Here's a look -- based on more than 2,000 comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) -- at some products companies say could get more expensive if the White House proceeds with a plan to impose tariffs of up to 25% on an additional $300 billion in goods the U.S buys. from China not already subject to levies.
Tech-related items make up more than half the $300 billion in Chinese imports that could soon face higher tariffs, according to the Consumer Technology Association. Putting the levies tariffs on listed tech products "will hinder U.S. innovation, slow the growth engines of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, and hit the pockets of the average American consumer," the CTA wrote.
Not surprisingly, Best Buy is asking the USTR to exempt laptop computers and tablets, cell phones, smartwatches, fitness, fitness trackers, modems, routers, computer display monitors, televisions, and gaming consoles from the proposed tariffs. .
New Balance, Clark's, Steve Madden and other footwear makers say they'll be forced to pass on prices to consumers. Although New Balance has supported Mr. Trump's tough stance on trade with China, the latest proposed round of tariffs "risk our company's overall financial health, which will in turn limit our ability to maintain and re-invest in our American factories," according to testimony prepared for Monica Gorman, the company's vice president of global compliance.
Your clothes will cost more as well, according to manufacturers like Ralph Lauren. That's because it's difficult for companies that have spent years building up a network of suppliers around the world, including in China, to quickly shift their manufacturing operations. The tariffs would result in "price increases for the average U.S. consumer," according to submitted testimony from Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet.
Giant Manufacturing began shifting production out of China to Taiwan, where the world's biggest bicycle maker is based, in September when Mr. Trump began threatening the tariff action, Bloomberg reported.
"When Trump announced the plan of 25% tariffs, we took it seriously," Chairwoman Bonnie Tu told the news service. "We started moving before he shut his mouth."
The industry has already been faced with absorbing each new round of tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump's administration, spanning the bikes themselves to accessories, according to written testimony from two major bicycle trade groups, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) and the PeopleForBikes Coalition.
This proposed round will hit "all products purchased to ride bicycles safely and comfortably – including helmets, lights, sunglasses, jackets, apparel, gloves and shoes," according to the testimony.
Hallmark also warns of higher costs. Prices for greeting cards are set roughly two years in advance, and a complex system of artists, suppliers and writers depend on the income, Hallmark said. "We fear price increases will cause many consumers to reduce or even eliminate greeting card purchases," Hallmark said in a filing with the USTR.
China is the world's main producer of fireworks -- that has some U.S. cities and towns concerned, according to retailers. Gregory Shelton, of Shelton Fireworks in Eagleville, Missouri, wrote that the tariffs will hurt his business. "This tariff will lead to higher prices, less sales and less employment opportunities for young people," he said. "It is a snowball effect. Less sales tax dollars for states and counties, less income tax paid to both U.S. and state governments, less social security paid in."
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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