U.S. Slaps 25-Percent Tariff on China-Made Products

On June 15th, the United States introduced a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods imported into the United States. More than 800 exports, worth about $34 billion, will be subject to tariffs starting in July. Another 280 exports still need to undergo a public-comment period, and will take effect later.

Among the goods subject to the tariff that will be implemented in July are: printer and copier parts; offset printers; and copier accessories. Broken down, these include:

(a)  Control or command assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: printed circuit assembly, hard or flexible (floppy) disk drive, keyboard, user interface;

(b)  Light source assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: light emitting diode assembly, gas laser, mirror polygon assembly, base casting;

(c)  Laser imaging assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: photoreceptor belt or cylinder, toner receptacle unit, toner developing unit, charge/discharge units, cleaning unit;

(d)  Image fixing assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: fuser, pressure roller, heating element, release oil dispenser, cleaning unit, electrical control;

(e)  Ink jet marking assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: thermal print head, ink dispensing unit, nozzle and reservoir unit, ink heater; 
(f)  Maintenance/sealing assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: vacuum unit, ink jet covering unit, sealing unit, purging unit;

(g)  Paper handling assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: paper transport belt, roller, print bar, carriage, gripper roller, paper storage unit, exit tray;

(h)  Thermal transfer imaging assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: thermal print head, cleaning unit, supply or take-up roller;

(ij) Ionographic imaging assemblies, incorporating more than one of the following: ion generation and emitting unit, air assist unit, printed circuit assembly, charge receptor belt or cylinder, toner receptacle unit, toner distribution unit, developer receptacle and distribution unit, developing unit, charge/discharge unit, cleaning unit; or

(k) Combinations of the above specified assemblies.

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 making up the third-largest category of imports:

The Imaging Supplies Coaliton (ISC), which is made up of major industry players such as Canon Inc. and HP Inc. dedicated to protecting their consumables’ revenue stream, has petitioned the government to exempt printer supplies imported from China from the government’s proposed 25-percent tariff. Not only would it do nothing to protect OEMs from the deluge of third-party supplies imported from China, the group said, it would impose significant costs on consumers and businesses.

The ISC cites a recent study by Trade Partnership Worldwide prepared for the Consumer Technology Association and the National Retail Federation that estimates that the tariffs would cause U.S. consumers to pay $529 million more than they now pay for ink and toner cartridges, and that consumers will cut back on purchases of ink and cartridges by 7.8 percent, “which will severely undermine companies based in the United States.”  For the office printer/MFP industry, which is anything but booming – with revenues now established as flat or slightly increasing – that could cause extremely significant impact.”

Earlier this month, Andy Binder, vice president and general manager of HP Inc.’s Office Supplies Solutions business, said that HP Inc. is seeking exclusions for tariffs on imported ink and toner cartridges. Binder also said that the tariffs would still allow knock-off toner and ink supplies to be sold in the United States.

CompTIA, the world’s leading technology association, released the following statement on June 15th from CompTIA’s executive vice president for public advocacy, Elizabeth Hyman,  regarding the Trump administration’s announcement of a 25 -percent tariffs on imports of Chinese technology products into the United States:

“Today the administration decided to levy a 25-percent import tariff on many tech-related products and components including printer parts, thermostats, computer equipment used in AI and blockchain technology, among other things beginning on July 6. There is no doubt that tariffs will create irreparable harm to America’s tech companies, the 11.5 million Americans that work in tech occupations, and consumers who rely on affordable technology in their daily lives. Tariffs will result in higher costs for American manufacturers and suppliers and decrease the overall global competitiveness of U.S.-based tech firms. There is a better way to achieve the results the administration is seeking. Trade wars over tariffs is not it.”

Our Take

The Imaging Supplies Coaliton (ISC) says that the 25-percent tariff would it do nothing to protect OEMs from the deluge of third-party supplies imported from China. We surmise that it would also do nothing to protect U.S. domestic sources for imaging supplies. How can this be?

In a recent test program, we purchased a variety of the most popular alternative toner cartridges from Amazon.com worldwide. All of them were of Chinese origin and we found that their cost was roughly 1/4 that of the OEM toner cartridge. Even with the 25% tariff, the third-party alternative cartridges will be considerably less expensive than OEM cartridges. Moreover, U.S.-based imaging supply firms source most of their “repair” parts from China replete with the new tariff. Finally, the inevitable price increases on all fronts will encourage more users to experiment with alternative cartridges–a majority of which originate in China.

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