The United States of America’s tariffs imposed on the top 20 consumer discretionary products imported from China cost a subtotal US$66.2 billion on $156.3 billion worth of imported Chinese goods in 2020.
Therefore, US importers pay an average 42.4% in tariff rates for America’s 20 major consumer goods imported from the People’s Republic. Individual tariff rates for each of America’s 20 mostly costly imported consumer goods from China vary from 10% for medium-size passenger cars up to 77.5% for synthetic blankets and rugs.
This article will reveal individual tariff rates imposed on each of America’s 20 key consumer imports from China.
Tariffs Defined: Who Collects and Who Pays?
Tariffs are like direct taxes, in this case collected by the US government on goods imported from China.
One common misconception is that the Chinese government and companies in China pay American tariffs directly. In fact, US-registered companies pay tariffs like a direct tax when products imported from China enter the United States. The tariff collector is the US customs department, formally called US Customs and Border Protection.
The underlying root cause motivating governments to impose tariffs is to increase their collectible revenue streams from products imported from a foreign entity like China (not covered under a Free Trade Agreement).
Often, American importers pass on tariff costs to their customers in the form of higher prices. That is why many economists say that US businesses and consumers foot most of the bill for tariffs charged on products imported from China. Tariffs on in-demand Chinese imported goods can also trigger higher inflation.
Tariffs are not to be confused with import duty, excise duties or custom duties. Duty or duties are distinctly different kinds of indirect taxation which, in general, apply to a far smaller range of products than tariffs do.
Most Valuable US Consumer Products Imported from China
The focus of this analysis is on 20 of the most valuable consumer goods that the United States bought from exporters located in mainland China. Shown beside each product item is the total amount spent including tariff costs.
- Laptop computers: US$47.7 billion in American import purchases
- Mobile phones: $39.1 billion
- Miscellaneous textile items including dresses: $16.8 billion
- Toys including those with wheels: $11.7 billion
- Computer parts or accessories: $6.9 billion
- Video console games: $5.1 billion
- Household metal furniture: $3.2 billion
- Exercise machines like cycles, rowers: $2.97 billion
- Cameras including video recorders: $2.85 billion
- Upholstered seats with wood frames: $2.8 billion
- Beddings including mattresses, pillows: $2.5 billion
- Metal-frame seats (non-upholstered): $2,15 billion
- Headphones, earphones: $1.97 billion
- Vacuum cleaners: $1.95 billion
- Household fans: $1.89 billion
- Stainless steel household items: $1.7 billion
- Microwave ovens: $1.46 billion
- Cooking, baking, grilling appliances, plate warmers: $1.36 billion
- Medium-size passenger cars: $1.2 billion
- Synthetic blankets, rugs (non-electric): $1 billion
By value, the above 20 consumer products represent over a third (34.2%) of America’s overall imports from mainland China during 2020.
Imports of the 20 major consumer goods from Chinese suppliers increased in overall dollar value by an average 19.6% compared to 2019.
The fastest growers from 2019 to 2020 were US imports for Chinese shipments of miscellaneous textile items including dresses (up 398.9%), exercise machines like cycles or rowers (up 66.3%), video console games (up 44.7%), vacuum cleaners (up 28.5%), cooking, baking, grilling appliances, plate warmers (up 26.8%), laptop computers (up 26.2%) and headphones or earphones (up 24.2%).
Leading the decliners in terms of total US spending were medium-size passenger cars (down -23.5% since 2019), upholstered seats with wood frames (down -18.8%), cameras including video recorders (down -14.3%) and non-electric synthetic blankets or rugs (down -10.6%).
US Tariff Rates on Top Consumer Products Bought from China
For faster research, listed below are the 20 biggest consumer products by dollar value that the United States imported from China by product name. This list is sorted in ascending alphabetical order starting with the lowest tariff rates.
Immediately to the right of each product name is the tariff percentage collected by the US government.
- Medium-size passenger cars: 10% tariff rate
- Cameras including video recorders: 35%
- Computer parts or accessories: 35%
- Headphones, earphones: 35%
- Household fans: 35%
- Laptop computers: 35%
- Microwave ovens: 35%
- Mobile phones: 35%
- Vacuum cleaners: 35%
- Video console games: 35%
- Beddings including mattresses, pillows: 40%
- Exercise machines like cycles, rowers: 40%
- Stainless steel household items: 40%
- Upholstered seats with wood frames: 40%
- Cooking, baking, grilling appliances, plate warmers: 45%
- Household metal furniture: 45%
- Metal-frame seats (non-upholstered): 45%
- Toys including those with wheels: 70%
- Miscellaneous textile items including dresses: 71.5%
- Synthetic blankets, rugs (non-electric): 77.5%
The costliest US tariff rates among those imposed on the main consumer goods imported from China are for non-electric blankets and rugs made from synthetic materials (77.5% of product cost), miscellaneous textile items including dresses (71.5%) and toys including wheeled toys like tricycles (70%).
The lowest tariffs that the US government imposes on the top imported consumer products from the People’s Republic are on medium-size passenger cars (10% of product cost) then a cohort of 9 other consumer goods subject to a 35% tariff rate.
Dollar Cost of US Tariffs to Buy Top Chinese Consumer Products
Below, you will find America’s 20 major consumer products imported from China that drew the greatest tariff spending in 2020.
The leading imported Chinese goods are listed in descending order starting with the products generating the greatest tariff costs.
- Laptop computers: US$16.7 billion in total tariffs
- Mobile phones: $13.7 billion
- Miscellaneous textile items including dresses: $12 billion
- Toys including those with wheels: $8.2 billion
- Computer parts or accessories: $2.4 billion
- Video console games: $1.8 billion
- Household metal furniture: $1.44 billion
- Exercise machines like cycles, rowers: $1.19 billion
- Upholstered seats with wood frames: $1.1 billion
- Beddings including mattresses, pillows: $997.9 million
- Cameras including video recorders: $996.9 million
- Metal-frame seats (non-upholstered): $968.2 million
- Synthetic blankets, rugs (non-electric): $784.1 million
- Stainless steel household items: $689.2 million
- Headphones, earphones: $688.2 million
- Vacuum cleaners: $681.6 million
- Household fans: $660.8 million
- Cooking, baking, grilling appliances, plate warmers: $611.7 million
- Microwave ovens: $510.2 million
- Medium-size passenger cars: $120.1 million
America’s 6 most expensive consumer products imported from China in terms of collectible tariffs encompass technological items specifically laptops, mobile phones, computer parts or accessories, and video console games.
Collectively those 4 technology-driven imports account for over half (52.2%) of the subtotal $66.2 billion collected in tariffs for the 20 leading consumer products imported from the People’s Republic.
And while medium-size passenger cars exported from China to the United States are relatively big ticket items, the comparatively low 10% tariff rate imposed by the US government on automobiles imported from China results in the lowest collectible tariff sum listed above.
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational sources.
Dheeraj Vaidya of WallStreetMojo, Duty vs Tariff.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Rajesh Kumar Singh of Reuters, Explainer: Trump’s China tariff – Paid by U.S. Importers, not China.
United States International Trade Administration, Harmonized Tariff Schedule (2021 Basic Revision 8)