Trump’s 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese goods take effect

But with prices of many retail goods now likely to rise, the administration’s move threatens the US economy’s main driver. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

Trump’s 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese goods take effect

  • With prices of many retail goods now likely to rise, the administration’s move threatens the US economy’s main driver
  • As a result of Trump’s higher tariffs, many US companies say they will be forced to pass on the higher costs to their customers

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration’s latest round of tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early Sunday, potentially raising prices Americans pay for some clothes, shoes, sporting goods and other consumer goods in advance of the holiday shopping season.
The 15 percent taxes apply to about $112 billion of Chinese imports. All told, more than two-thirds of the consumer goods the United States imports from China now face higher taxes. The administration had largely avoided hitting consumer items in its earlier rounds of tariff hikes.
But with prices of many retail goods now likely to rise, the administration’s move threatens the US economy’s main driver: Consumer spending. As businesses pull back on investment spending and exports slow in the face of weak global growth, American shoppers have been a key bright spot for the economy.
As a result of Trump’s higher tariffs, many US companies have warned that they will be forced to pass on to their customers the higher prices they will pay on Chinese imports. Some businesses, though, may decide in the end to absorb the higher costs rather than raise prices for their customers.
After Sunday’s tariff hike, 87 percent of textiles and clothing from China and 52 percent of shoes will be subject to import taxes.
On Dec. 15, the administration is scheduled to impose a second round of 15 percent tariffs — this time on roughly $160 billion of imports. If those duties take effect, virtually all goods imported from China will be covered.
The Trump administration has been locked in a trade war with China for more than a year, spurred by its assertion that China steals US trade secrets and unfairly subsidizes its own companies in its drive to overtake the United States in such high-tech industries as artificial intelligence and electric cars.
To try to force Beijing to reform its trade practices, the Trump administration has imposed import taxes on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports, and China has retaliated with tariffs on US exports.
The president has insisted that China itself pays the tariffs. But in fact, economic research has concluded that the costs of the duties fall on US businesses and consumers. Trump had indirectly acknowledged the tariffs’ impact by delaying some of the duties until Dec. 15, after holiday goods are already on store shelves.
A study by J.P. Morgan found that Trump’s tariffs will cost the average US household $1,000 a year. That study was done before Trump raised the Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 tariffs to 15 percent from 10 percent.
The president has also announced that existing 25 percent tariffs on a separate group of $250 billion of Chinese imports will increase to 30 percent on Oct. 1.
That cost could weaken an already slowing US economy. Though consumer spending grew last quarter at its fastest pace in five years, the overall economy expanded at just a modest 2 percent annual rate, down from a 3.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year.
The economy is widely expected to slow further in the months ahead as income growth slows, businesses delay expansions and higher prices from tariffs depress consumer spending. Companies have already reduced investment spending, and exports have dropped against a backdrop of slower global growth.
Americans have already turned more pessimistic in light of the trade war. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, released Friday, fell by the most since December 2012.
“The data indicate that the erosion of consumer confidence due to tariff policies is now well underway,” said Richard Curtin, who oversees the index.
Some retailers may eat the cost of the tariffs. Target confirmed to The Associated Press that it warned suppliers that it won’t accept cost increases arising from the China tariffs. But many smaller retailers won’t have the bargaining power to make such demands and will pass the costs to customers.


Struggling WeWork mulls bailout deals with SoftBank, JP Morgan

Updated 51 min 42 sec ago

Struggling WeWork mulls bailout deals with SoftBank, JP Morgan

TOKYO: Under-pressure start-up WeWork is considering two huge bailout plans including a cash injection that could see Japanese investment titan SoftBank take control of the firm, according to reports.
The office-sharing giant had been on course for a massive initial public offering until last month when questions began to be asked over its governance and profit outlook.
The firm’s valuation plunged from $47 billion in January to less than $20 billion in September and the listing plans have been dropped, while co-founder Adam Neumann stepped down as chief executive.
With New York-based parent company We Co. not expected to push for the IPO this year, the cash-strapped firm is looking for a financial lifeline.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Bloomberg News cited unnamed sources close to the talks as saying SoftBank — the US firm’s biggest shareholder — had drawn up a proposal that gives it full control of WeWork.
The move would dilute the voting power of Neumann, who remains as chairman of the company he started in 2010 and also currently maintains control a majority of voting shares.
They also reported that WeWork is looking at a deal with Wall Street giant JP Morgan to raise $5 billion in debt, with the Times saying directors of We would be meeting as soon as Monday afternoon to discuss that.
“WeWork has retained a major Wall Street financial institution to arrange financing,” the Journal reported a company spokesman as saying.
“Approximately 60 financing sources have signed confidentiality agreements and are meeting with the company’s management and its bankers over the course of this past week and this coming week.”
The New York-based startup that launched in 2010 has touted itself as revolutionizing commercial real estate by offering shared, flexible workspace arrangements, and has operations in 111 cities in 29 countries.
However, the company, which lost $1.9 billion last year, has faced skepticism over its ability to make money, especially if the global economy slows significantly.