Donald Trump’s China tariffs ‘Grinch’ Christmas lights

November 28, 2018

Trump administration tariffs on China are driving up the cost of Christmas lights this holiday season, an anti-tariff business group warned Wednesday.

The 10 percent tariff on Christmas lights was among duties President Trump slapped on $200 billion of Chineses goods in late September smack in the middle of the peak season for increasing holiday inventory.

The higher costs are being passed on to Christmas shoppers, said Charles Boustany, spokesman for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.

Nearly all Christmas lights sold in the U.S. are imported and more than 80 percent came from China in 2017, according to the U.S. Census data.

“This is another instance when these tariffs are nothing more than a tax on businesses and working families,” he said. “Raising costs for businesses and consumers during the holidays doesn’t do anything but punish Americans who, polls show, want nothing to do with this trade war.”

He urged Mr. Trump to strike a deal and end the tariff war when he meets later this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina.

“Millions of Americans are counting on him to make that deal,” said Mr. Boustany.

Mr. Trump says he’s ready to make a trade deal when Beijing ends unfair trade practices such as theft of intellectual property, forced transfer of technology from American companies doing business in China and high tariffs and other trade barriers on U.S. goods.

But top Democrats urged the president to resist Chinese entreaties, saying some pain now for U.S. businesses and consumers is worth it if it means breaking China’s trade barriers.

“We need to stay the course until China feels the heat,” stated Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who admits Mr. Trump’s trade policy toward China was one area where the two men had seen eye-to-eye. But he worried Mr. Trump will try to cut a face-saving deal.

“Backing off on China for some quick handshake agreement without substantive, real, deep, substantive commitments will be seen as a victory by no one. It will be seen as capitulation,” he said.

The president has used tariffs and other get-tough measures to force a renegotiation of the three-way trade deal between the U.S. Canada and Mexico, as well as force the European Union to open trade talks.

The tariffs that include Christmas lights will increase to 25 percent Jan. 1 unless Beijing begins earnest trade negotiations, said the president.

Those taxes are on top of tariffs the Trump administration previously imposed on a total of $100 billion of Chinese goods.

Mr. Trump has also teed up another round on duties on another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods, which if enacted would impose punitive duties on nearly all Chinese products sold in the U.S.

Government data compiled by the Trade Partnership for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland show that as of September American businesses paid $4.4 billion in import tariffs, including a $1.4 billion increase in tariffs on products that have been targeted by the administration’s tariff actions. The $4.4 billion in tariffs paid in both August and September are unprecedented in U.S. history, according to the business group.

Update hourly