WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expanding the battlefield in its trade fight with China, moving beyond industrial goods to threaten tariffs for the first time on a range of consumer products that illustrates how dependent the vast U.S. consumer economy is on imports.
The list includes such retail items as bicycles, sound systems, dog food and leashes, pocketbooks, hammers and other tools. “They’re not only hitting consumers’ wallets, they’re literally hitting wallets,” said John Gold, vice president at the National Retail Federation, whose members rely heavily on low-price Chinese products.
Gold was referring to the inclusion on the new list of $200 billion in products under consideration for new 10% import taxes of “travel goods,” a broad category that includes wallets as well as luggage. The American Apparel & Footwear Association estimates that more than 80% of that $31 billion sector is imported from China.
The range of products under consideration for new tariffs — a 195-page list starting with “frozen retail cuts of meat of swine” and rolling through “ice hockey gloves,” “carpets and other textile floor coverings” and “sewing machines” — shows just how much the U.S. looks to China for consumer goods, as the world’s most populous economy has developed into the world’s factory floor.
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