Tariffs Delayed for Toothpicks but not for Office Furniture

The on again, off again, slip shot trade war got a revision on Tuesday as the Trump administration backed off imposing new tariffs on a variety of items, mostly those sold at Walmart and Best Buy.

As a result the U.S. stock markets jumped Tuesday morning after the U.S. Trade Representative said it would be removing some items and delaying others from the latest 10% tariff coming to Chinese imports. Most furniture-related imports from China already have been hit with a 25% tariff.

In May, USTR published a list of products potentially subject to the tariff announce via Twitter by President Donald Trump Aug. 1 and to be imposed Sept. 1. It affects about $300 billion in Chinese imports, or roughly all remaining Chinese goods not already subject to a tariff. But now that list is changing and shrinking.

“Certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors, and will not face additional tariffs of 10%,” USTR said in a statement.

Those items having their tariffs delayed presumedly because of national security concerns include billiard tables, playing cards, pencil sharpeners, and of course the greatest threat to national security, toothpicks.

Apparently office furniture and its related components, don't rise to the level of being a national security concern (and thus having its tariffs delayed) as much as Clothespins, which are now not subject to tariffs.

Of course Trumps reasoning for the change in the start date of the latest round of trade war tariffs was easily explained by him. “We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” he told reporters around noon. “Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”

The S&P 500 climbed nearly 2 percent after the announcement, lifted partly by stocks of retailers and computer chip producers that have been sensitive to indications that trade tensions were getting either better or worse.

Here’s a list of items having their tariffs delayed and are not considered security threats any longer, or at least until December 15th.