You are here

New tariffs to test the strength of US consumers

More than 3,200 categories of Chinese goodsare targeted for the new tariff starting Sunday, barring a last-minute flinch by President Donald Trump.

[NEW YORK] Sausages, ketchup and mustard, plastic plates - all essential ingredients for Americans tending to their grills this Labour Day weekend. Soon they'll be 15 per cent more expensive to import from China.

The picnic products are just a sampling of the more than 3,200 categories of Chinese goods targeted for the new tariff starting Sunday, barring a last-minute flinch by President Donald Trump. It's the next escalation of a trade war between Washington and Beijing that will add import taxes on about US$112 billion in Chinese imports, including many consumer food items, household goods and apparel. It'll also be a good stress test of the strongest pillar of the US economy at the moment: consumers.

In the days leading up to the next wave of US levies, China is calling for calm and more talks. Meanwhile, Mr Trump's getting an earful from a wider circle of critics closer to home.

Turning up his already loud megaphone this week was Thomas Donohue, chief executive officer of the US Chamber of Commerce. The head of the largest lobbying group for American businesses called for ceasefire and a return to talks.

Market voices on:

A large majority of the American companies that are members of the US-China Business Council said they're committed to China over the long term and don't plan to leave, according to a survey the group released Thursday.

A coalition of more than 150 trade associations is making a last-ditch plea to postpone duties on other goods that take effect Sunday, saying they "come at the worst possible time" and that holiday purchases will still be affected.

There's always a chance the two sides could see the potential fallout as too great a risk to take and declare a truce before Saturday ends. As for Mr Trump, he's planning to monitor a hurricane bound for Florida for part of this weekend at Camp David, the woodsy presidential getaway just north of Washington that's also a prime location to meet with advisers and maybe talk trade strategy over a summer holiday cookout.