Here Is Your Weekend Tariff Primer

Ding Ting/Xinhua via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

It’s hard to keep track of all the China tariff action these days. Here’s a short primer.

Imports from China have been broken into lists, which are just what they sound like: lists of various kinds of products. Lists 1 and 2 account for about $50 billion worth of Chinese imports annually and were subjected to 25 percent tariffs last year. These were mostly industrial products, not consumer products.

List 3 included food and other consumer items in addition to industrial goods, clocking in at about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Trump imposed a 10 percent tariff on List 3 last year and upped it to 25 percent earlier this year.

List 4 is everything else and amounts to about $300 billion worth of imports. Trump imposed a 10 percent tariff on List 4 products earlier this month. On Friday, he announced that this would increase to 15 percent and the tariffs on the other lists would increase to 30 percent.

However, because Trump doesn’t want to interfere with Christmas, List 4 was split into List 4a and List 4b. The tariffs on List 4b, which includes lots of popular consumer items, won’t go into effect until mid-December.

Keep in mind that tariffs are imposed on the “customs value” of products. An iPhone that retails for $1,000, for example, has a customs value of around $400. A 15 percent tariff comes to $60, or roughly 6 percent of the retail value.

All told, we import about $550 billion in goods from China annually, and when List 4 takes full effect at the end of the year all of it will be subject to Trump tariffs. Products on Lists 1-3 will be subject to tariffs of 30 percent and products on List 4 will be subject to tariffs of 15 percent. Unless Trump changes his mind between now and December, that is.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate