Updated May 5, 2019: The Trump Administration announced that all products on Tranche 3 (“List 3”) would have tariffs raised from 10% to 25% on May 10, 2019. It was also announced that the remaining goods worth over $300 billion that are not currently subject to additional tariffs would also “quickly” be subjected to 25% tariffs.

Updated November 30, 2018: The Trump Administration has agreed to freeze the tariffs increase scheduled for January 1, 2019, for 90 days. Without an agreement reached in this time, tariffs will increase to 25% on April 1, 2019.

Updated September 17, 2018: The Trump Administration has set the implementation date of the latest round of 10% tariffs to September 24, increasing to 25% on January 1, 2019.

A very good percentage of people who read this blog are importers from China who are selling in America.

Starting August 23, 2018, the Trump Administration put additional tariffs on $16 billion worth of products. It escalated to the point that on May 10, 2019, nearly half of all goods that America imports from China were subject to an additional 25% tariffs.

The List of Products Affected By Trump’s Tariffs

Trump’s list of items to be tariffed has come in four stages. The first two affected roughly $50 billion of the United States’ $500 billion worth of imports from China. The third list, which went into effect on September 24, 2018, affects $200 billion worth of goods. List 4, not yet in place, will encompass all products not currently hit by List 1, List 2, or List 3.

The first two lists have 25% tariffs. The third list started at 10% and escalated to 25% on May 10, 2019.  This is in addition to any existing duties your product may have. So for example, if your product has an existing 8% duty, the new rate would be 8% + 25% = 33%.

Below is a complete list of all the products affected by Trump’s tariffs. These are lists of HS Codes. If you are an importer and do not keep accurate records of your HS codes, now is the time to review your previous customs forms and figure out what these codes are for your products.

List 1 – July 6, 2018 (25%) – $34 Billion (25%) List 2 – August 23, 2018 – $16 Billion (25%) List 3 – September 24,2018 – , $200 Billion (10%). Increased to 25% on May 10, 2019 List 4, Proposed, All Other Products
Download the list of Affected Items for Round 1, July 6, 2018 (PDF) Download the list of Affected Items for Round 2, August 23, 2018 (PDF) Download the list of Affected Items for Round 3, September 24, 2018 (PDF) Download the list of Affected Items for Round 3, May 10, 2019 (PDF)
Does not include products approved by congress for exclusion listed here.

Exclusions

Approximately 1000 products have been excluded from the list of affected products. To view an updated list of exclusions, view the United States Trade Representative website here.

Proposed List 4 (Spring 2019)

Along with Lists 1-3, the Trump Administration released its final proposal for List 4, for implementing 25% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion worth of goods currently not subject to additional duties.

This final tranche will be reviewed until June 17, 2019. Previously for List 3, one month after the review period the additional tariffs were put in place. It’s reasonable to assume that List 4 will be implemented some time near the middle of July 2019 if no trade deal is reached.

Are You Affected by These Tariffs?

The first two lists largely targeted non-consumer products such as industrial products, medical products, transportation products, etc.  In other words, there is a very good chance that the average Amazon seller was not affected by List 1 or List 2 of increased tariffs.

trumps-tariffs-list1

The first two lists mostly included non-consumer products such as industrial products.

List 3 of products is much more consequential and starts to affect consumer goods – in other words, List 3 products may very well affect you.

If you were fortunate enough to have products not affected by List 1, List 2, or List 3 then any remaining products would be affected by List 4.

What You Can & Cannot Do About These Tariffs

There are some things that you can do to minimize the impact of any additional tariffs:

  • Review your products’ HS codes immediately and determine if they are affected by List 1, List 2, or List 3
  • Use the daily $800 de minimis threshold to your advantage
  • Diligently plan how much stock you hold considering that tariffs may be removed on very short notice if a trade deal is reached
  • Raise prices
hs-codes

Check if your products’ HS codes are included in list 3.

What you shouldn’t do:

  • Deliberately misclassify your goods to avoid lower duties
  • Ship goods through an intermediary country like Canada (duties are based on Country of Origin, not the last transit point)

The most important thing you can do is to determine if you will have any products impacted by the new duties and determine if your pricing should be raised to reflect the new tariffs.

Additionally, the United States does allow up to $800/day of goods to be imported without paying any duty which you can use to your advantage. Finally, plan your inventory diligently. Ordering 12 months worth of inventory is probably not a great idea given the fluidness of things and the fact a trade deal could be reached at any time.

shipment-container

Deliberately misclassifying your goods could result in a massive fine should Customs decide to inspect your shipment.

What you should not do is look at deliberately misclassifying your items to avoid duties. What many people do not realize is that your shipments are not fully ‘liquidated’ until 12 months after clearance into the United States. This means that your shipments can be reviewed for up to 12 months after clearance to  assess whether they have had the correct HS Code applied (you know that bond you pay for when importing goods into the United States? This is to pay for your duties in the event you are re-assessed and can’t afford to pay up). You can be sure post-clearance audits of shipments will increase significantly in the future.

Additionally, first importing your goods into another country like Canada will not avoid the tariffs as duties are based on the original country of origin.

Predictions for the Future

As polarizing as Donald Trump is, “getting tough” on China is one issue he has relatively bipartisan support on. As Elizabeth Economy (a well respected China commentator) from China File said “The trade war signifies far more than President Trump’s desire to rebalance the bilateral trade deficit. It represents the culmination of decades of pent-up frustration within the United States over China’s failure to make good on the promise of its 2001 WTO”.

huawei cfo trump duties

The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was symbolic of the longstanding disagreements between China and the United States.

While the current impasse will likely be resolved, it’s likely that strong resentment and disagreements on both sides of the Pacific will remain. Many have raised the possibility that even if the tariffs are removed in the short term, they may be reinstated at a later date. As China expert Michael Hirson said, “[Any] deal’s implementation is likely to be rocky, with a real risk that the U.S. will reimpose tariffs in the next one-two years.”

Conclusion

Importers find the announcement of a new round of duties extremely annoying, at the very least. We, the importers, are paying the costs in the short term and will be loathed to increase prices. But this burden will be passed on to the end-user. Prices will rise and consumers will be the real ones paying the cost in the long run.

The good news is, like most trade disputes, this is one will likely be resolved eventually. But hopefully, a lasting resolution is reached sooner rather than later.