How a trade war could affect your pocketbook

Personal Finance


As global tensions over trade escalate, expect to take a hit at the register.

The White House has targeted 1,300 Chinese products for a 25 percent tariff, and China immediately threatened retaliation, sparking fears of a trade war.

The tensions between the world’s two largest economies has already spooked investors, and rightfully so. But all Americans have reason to be wary.

“The net losers in a trade war are always consumers,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, an advocacy group.

If the proposed tariffs on Chinese imports are enacted, the result could be increased prices on consumer electronics, including TVs, printers and copy machines, and some household appliances, like dishwashers.

US imports from China of goods subject to proposed tariffs ($ billions, 2017)

Source: Capital Economics. Note: Numbers in brackets are international classification codes.

“There’s no way around it: Tariffs are taxes on American consumers,” French said.

The federation estimates that access to imported goods through free-trade agreements boosts the purchasing power of the average American family by $18,000 a year. Therefore, tariffs limiting that access will increase the cost of living here in the U.S.



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