- UPDATE: In response to "unfair retaliation" by China on tariffs, President Donald Trump on Thursday escalated tensions by saying the U.S. would consider additional tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods, according to The New York Times.
- In a tit-for-tat tariff showdown, China's Ministry of Commerce Wednesday responded to Trump administration tariffs announced earlier in the week by imposing tariffs of its own at 25% on 106 types of U.S. products worth $50 billion. Tariffs could affect soybeans, aircrafts and automobiles, NPR reports. Earlier this week, China also began imposing tariffs between 15%-25% on 128 items, many of which are U.S. food and agriculture products, like pork, fruits and nuts.
- On Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a list of Chinese imports subject to tariffs instituted by the Trump administration in response to "the forced transfer of U.S. technology and intellectual property," according to a government press release. President Trump first announced tariffs last month on roughly $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.
A trade war with China is heating up — and that's far from good news for retailers that source and sell numerous critical products in the region.
UPDATE: In response to the escalating trade tensions, National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay on Friday issued a statement saying, "This is what a trade war looks like, and what we have warned against from the start. We are on a dangerous downward spiral and American families will be on the losing end," he said. "To be clear, we agree it’s time to address China’s unfair trade practices, but an additional $100 billion in tariffs amount to $100 billion in taxes on the American people. Tax reform delivered a real benefit to working families, and tariffs take them away."
UPDATE: The Retail Industry Leaders Association also expressed alarm Friday over the move. "If the Administration follows through on this threat, American families should prepare to pay more for summer clothes, shoes, back to school gear, home décor, holiday shopping — this will hit every season and every category," Hun Quach, vice president of international trade for RILA, said in a statement.
While everyday products like clothing and shoes are not on the tariff list issued Tuesday, trade groups like the NRF and RILA both raised concerns on Tuesday that the tariffs will negatively affect consumer electronics, TVs and home appliances. The groups also fear that tariffs on certain machinery could make U.S.-made products more expensive.
"It must be said, we have been forced into taking this action. Our action is restrained," Wang Shouwen, a Chinese deputy commerce minister, said at a news conference, according to The Associated Press. That sentiment suggests the tit-for-tat tariff measures may not be over.
The list of imports subject to new tariffs comes just two weeks after 25 retailers — including big-box players like Walmart, Target, Sears, Macy's, Kohl's and others — signed a letter to the White House warning that American consumers will pay more for goods if the tariffs are implemented. With apparel, shoes and other consumer goods off the table, that should calm some fears. But NRF CEO Matthew Shay urged the administration to "recognize the unintended consequences of protectionist trade policies."
"This entire process creates uncertainty and makes it difficult for retail companies that must rely on complicated global supply chains," he said. "Tariffs threaten to hurt consumers, jeopardize job creation and increase the cost of doing business here in the United States."
Hun Quach, vice president of international trade for RILA, also criticized the administration for not considering the complexity of retailers' global supply chains. "Tariffs on everyday consumer products will hit American wallets, not Chinese technology violators, and the presumption that any of these targeted products could be reasonably sourced elsewhere ignores the complexity of modern global value chains," she said in a statement