What’s New With Trump’s Tariffs? An Explainer


The trade war is officially escalating. On top of the tariffs placed on billions of dollars worth of imports from China earlier this year , President Donald Trump has added a 10-percent tax on another $200 billion worth of Chinese products , in effect as of September 24, and is planning to raise the tax to 25 percent on January 1, 2019.

Some of the goods on the hit list: luggage, seafood, fruit, furniture, baseball gloves, network routers, industrial machinery parts…clearly, a wide range of stuff. That means this issue stands to affect pretty much all of us, making shopping more expensive this season.

China has already retaliated with tariffs of 5 to 15 percent on $60 billion of U.S. goods from chemicals to clothes and auto parts, and pulled out of scheduled trade talks, escalating tensions even more.

Back up. What’s a tariff again?

It’s a special tax on specific imported goods and services, making them cost more.

Can we do that?

Yep. In fact, tariffs have been used by the U.S. (and many other countries) throughout history to control the amount of imported goods and services coming into the country—often to protect U.S. industries from foreign competition—and to punish other countries that have crossed us.

Trump says he is using tariffs to punish China and other countries for treating the U.S. unfairly in terms of trade. He expects that by raising these taxes on imports, American consumers will be discouraged from buying them and instead look for less costly domestic alternatives, which would effectively lower revenues for the exporting countries and help boost sales of U.S.-made goods.