Walmart has warned the Trump administration that its latest batch of tariffs could make it more expensive for U.S. households to buy items ranging from cribs to Christmas lights.
The world’s largest retailer delivered the message in a letter dated Sept. 6 to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In it, Walmart joined other industry players in sounding an alarm that American shoppers will suffer the most if another batch of levies is imposed on goods and parts bought from China.
“Should the tariffs go into effect, Walmart customers will face cost increases for essential items like car seats, cribs, backpacks, hats, pet products and bicycles,” the retailer said. And there will be a domino effect. “Either consumers will pay more, suppliers will receive less, retail margins will be lower, or consumers will buy fewer products or forego purchases altogether.”
The administration has been steadily imposing tariffs on China chiefly because it says the Asian nation has stolen intellectual property or demanded that U.S. companies disclose technologies to access its markets. U.S. officials are set to impose a new round of levies on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports ranging from detergent to luggage.
The new tariffs, which are slated to go into effect Monday, will start at 10 percent and rise to 25 percent at the start of the new year. China has said that it will respond with another $60 billion in duties on U.S. imports.
“We are concerned about the impact on U.S. suppliers, consumers and manufacturers,’’ said Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove in a statement. “We encourage the two countries to find near-term solutions to ease trade tensions that will allow more opportunities for U.S. exports and benefit families in both countries.’’
Walmart has often been criticized for stocking its shelves with goods made overseas, particularly in China, in an effort to keep its prices low. But the retailer says that two-thirds of its spending on merchandise sold in the U.S. goes to items that are grown, made or composed of parts produced in America.
Walmart also has committed to spending another $250 billion on products “that support American jobs” by 2023. Now, the retail giant says that pledge is in jeopardy.
“Unfortunately, the proposed tariffs have the potential to undermine these” plans, the Walmart letter warned. “Many manufacturers rely on component parts from China to assemble and finish production in the United States.”