May 8, 2019 12:00 PM, EDT

Common Consumer Goods May Be Target of Retaliatory Tariffs

Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump (Chip Somodevilla/Bloomberg News)

President Donald Trump’s latest threat to raise tariffs on Chinese goods puts vital intermediate equipment and everyday consumer goods used by millions of Americans back into the cross-hairs.

Additional duties of 25% on over $30 billion in circuit boards and telecommunications devices could be assessed this week, as part of higher charges on a batch of $200 billion in imports. If Trump carries out his threat to extend the 25% charge to all imports, that will start hitting categories such as the $45 billion in cellphones imported in 2018.


Tariffs on the first $200 billion, which initially went into effect last September, will rise to 25% from 10% at 12:01 a.m. on May 10, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed May 6.

Besides that hike, Trump tweeted his intention to put a 25% tariff on all remaining imports from China not already subject to retaliatory measures. That would include many consumer goods, including cellphones, laptops and toys.


Those new tariffs will come into force “shortly,” Trump said.

In 2018, the traded value of the items on the $200 billion tariff list ballooned to more than $206 billion from just $188 billion in 2017, exceeding the intended amount as exporters sought to front-load purchases ahead of the implementation of last year’s tariffs.


This mismatch between what the tariff lists intend to target and actual trade flows can be found in previous lists as well as in Trump’s tweets.

The potential pool of Chinese products that could still hit with fresh duties is less than $300 billion, well below the $325 billion figure that Trump threatened in his tweet.