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22 June 2024

US consumers may bear brunt of Trump's tariffs

Photo: Reuters


A universe of Chinese-made goods found in every American home is now subject to the sprawling tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, with the brunt of costs to be borne by US consumers, key drivers of the American economy.

Shampoo and furniture, vacuum cleaners, handbags and mobile phones. Half of everything Americans buy from China will by Monday be subject to 10 percent levies, rising to 25 percent about three months later.

"Every time this trade war escalates, the risk to US consumers grows," Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said in a statement following the announcement of Trump's latest China tariffs.

"We cannot afford further escalation, especially with the holiday shopping season right around the corner."

Trump's new protectionist measures now cover some 11,400 Chinese-made goods, or about $250 billion in annual imports at current levels, according to official documents and trade data.

According to Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, by the time of November's mid-term elections, "40 percent of total US imports could be hit by new tariffs that Trump imposed in 2018 alone."

While the Trump administration may downplay the risks, economists have long warned that mounting tariffs will ultimately have to come out of individual Americans' pocket books.

Trade is among US households' biggest worries, according to a regular University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment.

The breadth of products concerned, produced by most industrial sectors, and their number, could cause see some consumers cut their spending.