What Chinese products will avoid extra American tariffs – for now?

Kinling Lo

The United States said on Tuesday that it would delay imposing new tariffs on US$156 billion goods – mostly consumer products – from China to avoid hitting businesses and consumers ahead of the year-end shopping season.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to put an extra 10 per cent tariff on US$300 billion of Chinese goods from September 1 but now about half of those tariffs will not take effect until December 15.

“We’re doing this for [the] Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on US customers,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Some of the more popular Chinese goods affected by the suspension include:


The US imported US$45.8 billion of cellphones from China last year, including iPhones and many other smartphones assembled by manufacturers like Foxconn. The tariff reprieve for this category means customers planning to buy from Apple’s next range of iPhones – which the company usually launches in September – might not have to pay a higher price.

Apple usually launches new iPhones in September. Photo: EPA-EFE

Video game consoles and machines

Video games consoles and machines have been one of the all-time favourite Christmas gifts, with the US importing US$5.4 billion of the items from China last year. In June, some of the world’s biggest video game companies, including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, sent a joint letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative warning that the proposed tariffs would cause “a ripple effect of harm that extends throughout the video game ecosystem”. They said the extra tariffs could cost customers an additional US$840 million.

US to delay or remove some tariffs against China planned for September 1

Tablets and laptops

Tablets and laptops will also escape the extra duties until later in the year. In 2018, US imports in this category from China amounted to US$38.9 billion, followed by US$1.1 billion from Taiwan and US$792.1 million from Vietnam.

Laptops will also be exempted from the extra duties – for now. Photo: AFP

Christmas decorations

In 2018, the US imported a total of US$2.2 billion of nativity scenes and Christmas ornaments from China. Items in this category will not be subjected to extra tariffs until December 15.

Greeting cards

According to American card company Hallmark, roughly 1.3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year, the country’s biggest card-sending holiday. The US imported greeting cards from 50 economies last year, but China – not including Hong Kong and Taiwan – was the source of 92.8 per cent of the total. Under the reprieve, “printed cards (except postcards) bearing personal greetings, messages or announcements”, will not be affected by the extra duties until December 15.

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