US Announces Tariffs on $200 Billion of Chinese Imports, Including Residential Construction Goods

Window & Door
September 20, 2018

On Sept. 17, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a list of approximately $200-billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs. The action comes at the direction of President Trump and will take effect on Sept. 24, beginning at 10 percent and increasing to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019.

The list of more than 5,700 products includes wood products, float glass and fabricated glass products. The list also includes machinery parts and other products used for the window and door industry.

“We are taking this action today as a result of the Section 301 process that the USTR has been leading for more than 12 months,” said Trump in a statement. “After a thorough study, the USTR concluded that China is engaged in numerous unfair policies and practices relating to United States technology and intellectual property—such as forcing United States companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts. These practices plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy.”

In response, the Chinese government announced on Sept. 18 the addition of $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list, according to a Reuters report.

The announced tariffs follow previously instituted duties on metal products—25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. Aluminum and construction industry officials have been critical of the measures’ intended economic benefit, and uncertain about their ultimate impact on material costs, the supply chain and the health of the overall economy. “We can’t build the case that [the imposition of tariffs] is good for business; it’s not going to build our economy,” says Jeff Henderson, president, Aluminum Extruders Council. “It feels like it’s going to be disruptive.”

Other concerns have been raised about the potential impacts of the tariffs on the overall economy. “Tariffs could be a threat to the business cycle growth,” said Connor Lokar, economist, ITR Economics, during a presentation at the National Glass Association’s Glazing Executives Form, held Sept. 12 in conjunction with the 2018 GlassBuild America trade show in Las Vegas. “The idea that we can do this without a cost is just not a reality. Prices are going to increase. … That is really going to be a pressure point for the global economy.”

Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, notes the overall impact the tariffs could have on the housing market.

In a statement, he says, "President Trump's decision to impose ... tariffs on ... Chinese imports, including $10 billion of goods used by the residential construction sector, could have major ramifications for the housing industry. With housing costs on the rise, this action translates into a tax increase on housing. Further, this tax increase is coming on top of the current 20 percent tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada. The lumber tariffs have already added thousands of dollars to the price of a typical single-family home. With America facing a housing affordability crisis, it is counterproductive to enact policies that will needlessly drive up the cost of housing."