Christmas in August: Trump delays China tariffs for ornaments, sweaters, mittens, and Santa beards

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President Trump said Tuesday that the White House was delaying implementing 10% tariffs on some Chinese goods in order to not disrupt the fall and winter holiday shopping season. Later that day, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office showed just how hard the Trump administration was trying to maintain Christmas cheer when it revealed that the tariff-free items will include such goods as Christmas ornaments, sweaters, mittens, and Santa Claus beards.

The White House is set to enact tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods on Sept. 1 if the U.S. does not reach a deal with Beijing before then. The USTR announced Tuesday that it was removing some products from the list based on “health, safety, national security and other factors.” The tariffs for those items will not go into effect until Dec. 15.

“We’re doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers,” Trump said later in the day.

The official list of items that will be temporary tariff-free includes lots of popular Christmas gifts such as consumer electronic items and clothing. It also includes quite a few items that are associated more specifically with the holiday and cold winter days. Sweaters, gloves, mittens, and scarves, for example, will be exempt from tariffs, as will waterproof shoes, ski suits, and hockey gear. Blankets, including electric ones, will also escape the 10% tariffs.

More specific holiday-related items that will be exempted from the tariffs include “Printed cards (except postcards) bearing personal greetings, messages or announcements, with or without envelopes or trimmings” as well as calendars and five different categories of items for Christmas festivities, such as ornaments and nativity scenes. “Electrical filament Christmas‐tree lamps” are exempted. New Year’s Eve revelers will have their “Confetti, paper spirals or streamers, party favors, and noisemakers, and parts & accessories thereof” tariff-free too.

People wishing to preserve their holiday memories will be glad to know that photo albums are exempt. Knitted or crocheted stockings will be exempt for those who want to hang one by a chimney. Department-store Santas will find that “Wigs, false beards, eyebrows and the like” have been exempted.

The National Retail Federation said that the delay amounted to an acknowledgment by Trump that the tariffs hurt U.S. consumers. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, argued that the delay demonstrated that Trump doesn’t care about changing China’s trade practices.

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