President Trump announced yesterday afternoon that he is prepared to impose 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods imported from China in retaliation for what he views as China’s failure to follow through on promises to buy more agricultural products from the U.S. and to stop the flow of Fentanyl into the country. The tariffs would be imposed on September 1, and would cover a wide range of consumer products, including virtually all books.
The new tariff threat comes a little more than a month after Trump suspended plans to place 25% tariffs on the same group of products (referred to by the U.S. Trade Representative as List 4) after trade talks with China resumed. At the time of the proposed tariffs in the spring, the USTR held a lengthy public hearing to permit companies and industries to make a case for why their products should be excluded from the measure.
A delegation of publishers, printers, and booksellers made the trip to Washington to argue that books should not be included in the tariffs. Once the tariff threat was suspended, no ruling came down from the USTR. A source who has been following the trade talks said he expects that, next week, the USTR will finalize what industries on List 4 will be subject to new tariffs.