Consumer goods in crosshairs as Trump considers additional China tariffs

Consumer electronics are among nearly 4,000 categories of Chinese imports that may be subject to new tariffs after US President Donald Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping failed to reach a trade agreement.

The new levies will apply to about $300 billion in Chinese imports, on top of the $200 billion already affected by the tariff hike announced last week. These came into effect on Friday, jacking rates up to 25 percent on a wide range of Chinese consumer goods. On Monday, the US trade representative announced that a public hearing on the additional tariffs will be held on June 17, though Trump has reportedly not made a final decision on whether to impose the duties.

Among the 3,805 categories of Chinese imports that would be newly subject to a 25 percent tariff are cellphones, computers, and other consumer electronics, the trade representative said, adding that pharmaceuticals, certain medical products, rare-earth and “critical” minerals would be exempt from the new duties.

The office also announced a long list of products exempted from last week’s tariff hike – including LED light therapy devices, camera housings, and refrigerator parts – and promised to implement a process through which companies could seek further exclusions from the levies. To make the cut, products must not be available in the US or third countries, and the company must be able to show that paying the tariff would cause it – or other US interests – “severe economic harm.” Products also cannot be considered “strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs,” which the Trump administration has accused of being unfairly subsidized by the government and of incentivizing intellectual property theft.

US markets plummeted on Monday after China announced its own retaliatory tariff hike on $60 billion of US imports, including liquefied natural gas and frozen vegetables. The new rates would come into effect on June 1 and target over 5,000 products with levies ranging from five to 25 percent. Trump warned his Chinese counterparts that they would live to regret not accepting his proposed trade deal, accusing them of stalling for time in the hope of cutting a more favorable deal with a hypothetical Democratic replacement after the 2020 election.

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