This Week in Imaging: Tariffs on China-Made Printers, Copiers Could Have Big Impact

Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

One of the key goals of the current U.S. government administration has been to equalize trade between the United States and China. While at one point, the prospects of a U.S.-China trade war seemed to be diminishing, this week, those prospects were renewed, as last week, the United States said that it “still held the threat of imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China unless it addressed the issue of theft of American intellectual property,” according to Reuters.

The U.S. government also said “it will press ahead with restrictions on investment by Chinese companies in the United States as well as export controls for goods exported to China.”

While nothing has yet happened, the impact of such tariffs on the printer/copier industry could be substantial.

For instance, about a third of color printers sold in the United States are made in China. The chart below shows the substantial value of printer and copier imports into the United States, with parts for printers and copiers the third-largest category of imports:

The full list of Chinese products imported into the United States that the administration is proposing be assigned a 25-percent tariff can be found here, and includes:

Single-function printers, fax machines, and copiers; copiers; copier parts; printer parts; printer accessories; copier accessories; and fax machines. 

If the 25-percent tariff is applied, following are some of likely considerations:

  • The price of said devices and parts will rise accordingly.
  • “Printer parts” includes service and consumable items such as waste-toner receptacles, feed rollers, circuit boards, fuser rollers, photoconductors, transfer belts, filters, etc.; pricing for all of these items will rise.
  • Vendors, distributors, and dealers will need to raise prices accordingly.
  • A large percentage of supplies such as ink, toner, and cartridges are also made in China, which may also be subjected to the tariff.
  • The price of every vendor’s devices, parts, consumables, and service may not necessarily increase. The small percentage of available U.S.-manufactured products will enjoy a distinct price advantage.
  • Decision makers will not necessarily take price increases in stride, no matter their degree of patriotism or political persuasion.
  • If the tariffs are imposed and vendors pass the costs onto customers, some might be persuaded to pass on more expensive A3 systems, opting instead for lower-priced A3 or A3/A4 business-inkjet systems – of course the A4 and inkjet segments would also be affected by the tariff, but would still likely remain lower-priced.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (below) is expected to visit China this weekend in an effort to “ease” the trade tensions between the United States and China – and hopefully put out this fire. Stay tuned.

This week in imaging:

HP Continues to Report Strong Revenue Growth, Raises Forecast

A Closer Look at HP Inc. Financials, Samsung Integration, More

Ricoh Americas Exec Sees Opportunity in ‘Chaotic’ Printer/Copier Market

Lexmark VP Discusses Lexmark’s Biggest Product Launch Ever, Channel Strategy

Sixth Consecutive Quarter of Growth for Worldwide Printer and Copier/MFP Market

Mopria App Makes Android Scanning Easy

New Wide-Format Memjet-Powered Printer for Package Printing

New CFO for HP Inc.; Lesjak Retiring



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