From bedroom to garage, US-China trade war about to invade your home

Trump's plan to impose a 10 per cent tax on $200 billion of China-made products threatens to give US consumers a bruising in every corner of the home
President Donald Trump’s trade war is barging into bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms all over America.

Trump’s initial tariffs on $34 billion of Made-in-China goods, which took effect on July 6, stayed clear of popular household products. But as he looks to penalize nearly half of the $505 billion the US imported from China last year, it’s getting harder to shield the public.

His plan to impose a 10 per cent tax on $200 billion of China-made products threatens to give US consumers a bruising in every corner of the home. The tariffs may go into effect after public consultations end on August 30.

Dining Room

Tilapia from China for sale at a Chicago market.Photographer: Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Feeding time is set to become dearer. Knives and forks and other essentials would be taxed, while Chinese tilapia -- a popular item sold by Walmart Inc. and other retailers -- is among the seafood on the list. Washing it all down with apple juice or some Chinese wine will cost an extra 10 per cent, too.


Whether it’s whizzing up a smoothie or cooking for the family, preparing dinner may get pricier. Refrigerators and freezers are among Made-in-China appliances being targeted. And the ingredients Trump wants to tax read like a stir-fry recipe: abalone, sea urchins, garlic, bamboo shoots and dried mushrooms, not to mention monosodium glutamate, the flavour-enhancer commonly known as MSG. Don’t forget the chopping knife: it’s on Trump’s to-tax list, too.

Tool Shed

Home-improvement fans may end up paying more at Lowe’s Cos Inc. Trump’s proposed tariffs will raise the price of Chinese-made hedge shears, chainsaw blades and lawnmower parts. The cost of hammers, screwdrivers and woodworking equipment from China will go up, too.

Dog House

Legend has it that Harry Truman once said anyone who wants a friend in Washington should buy a dog. That might become a pricier proposition at Target Corp. because of planned tariffs on China-made dog leashes, collars, muzzles and harnesses. That could increase the prices of the 23 leashes for sale at Target by as little as 70 cents and as much as $3, if they are from China. Kitty isn’t exempt, either, with the president proposing a levy on cat food from China.


The tariffs raise the cost of imported spark plugs, piston engines, rear-view mirrors and other Chinese-made parts for autos and bicycles. And the golf bag you’ve stashed in the garage along with your baseball mitt, batting glove and other gear from retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.? They will be subject to new tariffs if they’re from China. The levies could add between $1 and $60 to the cost of baseball mitts at Dick’s. (The retailer’s website doesn’t disclose the country of origin for the gloves.


Drying off after a shower with a fluffy towel from Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. will cost you more if it’s Chinese-made terry toweling or a similar woven fabric. Personal grooming for guys could become pricier since hair clippers and electric shavers are on the new list, as are items like badger hair and boar bristle that are used in old-fashioned shaving brushes. Among the products targeted at women are Chinese-made lipsticks and makeup.

Living Room

There might be an unwelcome surprise at the end of the year when homeowners put up decorations for the holidays: The US has proposed a new tariff on what it calls "lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees."


Exhausted after a taxing day? It will cost more to sleep on a Made-in-China mattress.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel