From bedroom to garage, Trump's trade war is invading the American home

President Donald Trump's plan to impose a 10 per cent tax on US$200 billion of China-made products threatens to give US consumers a bruising in every corner of the home, targeting popular household products.
President Donald Trump's plan to impose a 10 per cent tax on US$200 billion of China-made products threatens to give US consumers a bruising in every corner of the home, targeting popular household products.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump's trade war is barging into bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms all over America.

Trump's initial tariffs on US$34 billion (S$46.4 billion) of Made-in-China goods, which took effect on July 6, stayed clear of popular household products.

But as he looks to penalise nearly half of the US$505 billion the US imported from China last year, it is getting harder to shield the public.

His plan to impose a 10 per cent tax on US$200 billion of China-made products threatens to give US consumers a bruising in every corner of the home.

The tariffs may go into effect after public consultations end on Aug 30.

DINING ROOM

Feeding time is set to become dearer. Knives and forks and other essentials would be taxed, while Chinese tilapia - a popular item sold by Walmart and other retailers - is among the seafood on the list.

Washing it all down with apple juice or some Chinese wine will cost an extra 10 per cent, too.

KITCHEN

Whether it is whizzing up a smoothie or cooking for the family, preparing dinner may get pricier.

Refrigerators and freezers are among Made-in-China appliances being targeted.

And the ingredients Trump wants to tax read like a stir-fry recipe: abalone, sea urchins, garlic, bamboo shoots and dried mushrooms, not to mention monosodium glutamate, the flavour-enhancer commonly known as MSG.

Do not forget the chopping knife: It is on Trump's to-tax list, too.

TOOL SHED

Home-improvement fans may end up paying more at Lowe's Companies.

Trump's proposed tariffs will raise the price of Chinese-made hedge shears, chainsaw blades and lawnmower parts. The cost of hammers, screwdrivers and woodworking equipment from China will go up, too.

DOG HOUSE

Legend has it that former US president Harry Truman once said anyone who wants a friend in Washington should buy a dog. That might become a pricier proposition at Target because of planned tariffs on China-made dog leashes, collars, muzzles and harnesses.

That could increase the prices of the 23 leashes for sale at Target by as little as 70 US cents and as much as US$3, if they are from China.

Kitty is not exempt, either, with the President proposing a levy on cat food from China.

GARAGE

The tariffs raise the cost of imported spark plugs, piston engines, rear-view mirrors and other Chinese-made parts for autos and bicycles.

And the golf bag stashed in the garage along with the baseball mitt, batting glove and other gear from retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods? They will be subject to new tariffs if they are from China.

The levies could add between US$1 and US$60 to the cost of baseball mitts at Dick's. (The retailer's website does not disclose the country of origin for the gloves.)

BATHROOM

Drying off after a shower with a fluffy towel from Bed Bath & Beyond will cost you more if it is Chinese-made terry towelling or a similar woven fabric.

Personal grooming for guys could become pricier since hair clippers and electric shavers are on the new list, as are items such as badger hair and boar bristle that are used in old-fashioned shaving brushes.

Among the products targeted at women are Chinese-made lipsticks and make-up.

LIVING ROOM

There might be an unwelcome surprise at the end of the year when home owners put up decorations for the holidays: The US has proposed a new tariff on what it calls "lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees".

BEDROOM

Exhausted after a taxing day? It will cost more to sleep on a Made-in-China mattress.