Vapers are about to face price increases on Chinese products if President Trump gets his way. But there’s time to register opposition if you want to.
As part of Trump’s trade war with China — which began today — administration officials have included Chinese-made vapor products in the list of imported goods that will soon be subject to a 25 percent tariff. The actions being threatened will affect the cost of hundreds of other products too, including auto parts and tech components.
A tariff is an import tax added to products to make them less competitive with similar American-made products. But if there is no U.S. company producing equivalent products — as with vaping devices — the tariff may simply deter consumers from buying at all. That would hurt vape shops and online retailers, distributors, and the Chinese manufacturers themselves.
And, of course, a 25 percent price hike would hurt vapers too, not just businesses. Although most of the e-liquid we use is made in the U.S., just about all vaping hardware is made in China. According to American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley, the proposed tariff will also include batteries intended for vaping products.
There will be a public hearing in Washington on July 24, in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW. It begins at 9:30 a.m. The deadline to sign up to speak has passed, but all interested parties can make comments on the U.S. Trade Representative’s public docket.
Comments from businesses will probably have the most impact on the commerce-focused administration. The intent of the tariffs is to help American industry. But the vape industry wouldn’t receive any benefit at all from the tariffs, and could be badly hurt. Customers will delay purchases, waiting out the tariffs, and retail businesses will do the same with their wholesale purchases. Wholesalers will reduce their orders from Chinese manufacturers, who will be forced to slow production, lay off workers, and reduce R&D budgets.
Whether Trump is behaving recklessly or being a “tough negotiator,” he seems to be deliberately ignoring the lessons of history. There are rarely winners in trade wars, and sometimes the results are tragic and painful. Trump has accused China of engaging in unfair trade practices and IP theft in dealings with the United States. Negotiations between the two countries have fallen apart, and it appears the U.S. is prepared to engage in a trade war that could be catastrophic for both countries.
Trump has already imposed tariffs on products from many countries, including staunch U.S. allies like Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. Many of those countries are retaliating too, hitting popular American products with import penalties. China also will retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods, and the resulting trade war will pit the world’s two largest economies against each other.