File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS U.S. President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Consumers could be collateral damage if U.S. expands tariffs

WASHINGTON — For many Americans, U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war may soon get very real.

His administration is preparing to extend 25% tariffs to practically all Chinese imports not already hit with duties, including toys, sneakers, shirts, alarm clocks, toasters and coffeemakers. That’s roughly $300 billion worth of products on top of the $250 billion targeted earlier.

“The administration’s decision to announce a tax on every product coming from China puts America’s entire economy at risk,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement. “Americans’ entire shopping cart will get more expensive.”

Trump’s tariffs are meant to put pressure on China in trade negotiations. The two countries have held 11 rounds of talks over American allegations that China steals technology, forces foreign companies to hand over trade secrets and unfairly subsidizes its own companies in a push to challenge U.S. technological dominance.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday published a list of 3,805 products that could be hit for the first time with 25% tariffs. The list includes things like tuna, pacifiers, saw blades, flashlights, door chimes, billiard balls and golf carts. It excludes pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals used in electronics and batteries.

The agency will take public comments and hold a hearing on the proposed tariffs June 17.

In its earlier rounds of tariffs on Chinese products, the administration tried to limit the effect on American consumers by focusing on so-called intermediate goods — imported components that U.S. companies use to make finished products.

That is about to change. Companies are already bracing for the fallout.

E-Blox, an educational toy company in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, imports toys from China and assembles and packages them in the U.S.

“We are keeping a close eye on this next round,” said E-Blox Chief Operating Officer Joe Seymour. “That would be devastating.”

If he tries to pass along the higher costs from the new tariff on toys to customers, he said, he will lose sales. And the company’s profit margins aren’t big enough for it to simply absorb the tariffs, he said.

Could E-Blox move manufacturing back to the U.S. — as Trump has suggested — to dodge the taxes on imports? Seymour said that would be hard because the Trump administration has slapped import taxes on the Chinese plastic injection moulding machines he would need to produce toys in this country.

China, for its part, has punched back by imposing tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. products.

Trump on Tuesday shrugged off the tariff war. “We’re having a little squabble with China,” he said at the White House.

Some U.S. importers might try to switch to suppliers outside China, in countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. But the transition won’t be easy. Costs could rise and quality slip as new suppliers replace experienced Chinese contractors.

“For crying out loud, unemployment is 3.6%. Who is going to want to paint the eyeballs onto a Marvel action figure or Barbie doll here?” Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, a toy company in Boca Raton, Florida, that imports from China. “It’s just not going to happen.”

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read