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How Trump's New Tariffs Impact Meeting Planners

A round of new tariffs taking effect on September 24 covers approximately 5,745 Chinese goods, totaling $200 billion in imports. The move could impact any meeting planner who orders incentive gifts for events.

The initial tariffs start at 10 percent but will climb to 25 percent starting on Jan. 1, 2019. The list of goods subject to the newest tariffs include these popular meeting supplies and giveaway products:

  • Articles of apparel and clothing accessories of plastic.
  • Many types of leather, including composition and patent leather, used to make bags and other finished leather products.
  • Wallets, billfolds and other “articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag,” including those made of leather, plastics, cotton, vegetable fibers and other textiles.
  • Travel, sports and similar bags, including those made of cotton, vegetable fibers, manmade fibers and paper yarn.
  • Insulated food and beverage bags.
  • Trays, dishes, plates, cups and other dinnerware made of paper or paperboard.
  • Hand fans of paper or paperboard.

“Unfortunately, China has been unwilling to change its policies involving the unfair acquisition of U.S. technology and intellectual property,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative noted in a statement.

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“Instead, China responded to the United States’ tariff action by taking further steps to harm U.S. workers and businesses. In these circumstances, the President has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to increase the level of trade covered by the additional duties in order to obtain elimination of China’s unfair policies. The Administration will continue to encourage China to allow for fair trade with the United States."

What does this mean for planners in the short term? These items will likely increase in price, which means that planners and venues stocking up on certain products ahead of their next big event will pay more for them.

Meetings Today reached out to Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), which provided the following statement in response to the September 24 tariff increases issued by the U.S. government:

"According to Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the world’s largest not-for-profit trade association serving the promotional products industry, it is still too early to predict the full effect of tariffs on promotional products. PPAI recommends meeting and event professionals plan ahead and work closely with their [products distributors] to communicate their marketing and event planning needs clearly and early.

"PPAI has joined with numerous associations representing diverse industries to voice strong opposition to any tariff increases on U.S. imports of consumer products.

"PPAI encourages meetings and events industry professionals to contact their members of Congress and ask them to assert their oversight authority regarding these trade matters."

Previous tariffs introduced in March 2018 targeted steel and aluminum imports and resulted in retaliatory tariffs from a number of countries affected by the policy, including Canada and the European Union.

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Meetings Today Chief Content Director Tyler Davidson contributed to this reporting.

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About the author
Janelle Penny | Contributing Writer

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with an emphasis on facilities management.