U.S. Trade War with China Casts Specter on Halloween Industry, Advocacy Group Warns

Washington Times |


Candy, costumes and pumpkin carving, the hallmarks of , are expected to hit U.S. bank accounts harder this year with fallout from President Trump's trade war with China, according to an organization of chamber of commerce representatives.

The U.S. public spends upwards of $9 billion on festivities including, candy, costumes, decorations and products, according to the National Retail Foundation, and items typically imported from China are likely to increase in price with new tariffs.

In September, the Trump administration imposed 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, with more tariffs expected to be announced by the end of December, multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday.

Freedom Partners, a nonprofit chamber of commerce based in Arlington, Virginia, warns that tariffs are putting a strain on the industry this year.

"From costumes to cider, trade wars can have 'tarrify-ing' consequences for Americans," Freedom Partners spokesman Kevin Schweers said in a statement.

"No matter how anyone tries to dress them up, tariffs are nothing more than sales taxes that unfairly charge the working class more for everyday goods. If Washington doesn't begin moving us to a 'zero-tariff' trade policy soon, the damage to our economy will be far scarier than any costume."

Freedom Partners cited testimony by retail lobbying groups such as the National Confectioners Association, individual businesses and manufacturing companies as speaking out against increased taxes on imported goods.

In September, the NCA submitted written testimonial to the office of the United States Trade Representative in opposition of proposed tariffs on Chinese imports, fearing retaliation on U.S. exports to China and increasing prices on products that candy companies typically buy from China.

This includes raw materials like cocoa, sugar, dairy, and non-sugar sweeteners and decorative packaging for all holidays from through Easter.

"U.S. manufacturers rely on these reusable containers, primarily imported from China, to package confections for gift-giving of seasonal and holiday selections. Increased tariffs on specialty packaging will reduce selection for consumers as U.S. manufacturers may turn to less traditional options," the NCA wrote.

Discount retail stores are also facing tough choices in whether to continue ordering popular products that are cheaply made in China and help keep their bottom line low.

Dollar Tree, the discount all-purpose retail store, imports about 42 percent of its items from China, USA Today reported earlier this month, and its subsidiary, Family Dollar, imports about 23 percent. This translates to thousands of items requiring an increased price to cover new tariffs, or the company refusing to purchase them for resale at all.

Freedom Partners said this translates to popular costumes and do-it-yourself materials likely to be unavailable on store shelves or at an increased price.

Another tradition at risk, pumpkin-carving, with specialty carving kits at risk of a 10 to 25 percent price increase because of tariffs.

"Our products cannot absorb a tariff of 10 percent or 25 percent. Our retail partners will be unwilling to absorb a 10 percent or 25 percent higher cost," a representative of Signature Brands, which manufactures carving kits, among other items, told Freedom Partners. "The only alternative is that these duties attempt to be passed directly to the American consumer, who will not pay the higher price, thereby shrinking Signature Brands business."

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