Fri, Jul 27, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Trump’s re-election banners could get burned by his tariffs

Reuters, FUYANG, China

The red, white and blue banners for US President Donald Trump’s second-term election campaign are ready to ship, emblazoned with the words “Keep America Great,” but they are made in eastern China and soon could be hit by punitive tariffs of Trump’s own making as he ratchets up a rancorous trade dispute with Beijing.

At Jiahao Flag Co in Anhui Province, women operate sewing machines to hem the edges of “Trump 2020” flags the size of beach towels, while others fold and bundle them for delivery.

The factory has turned out about 90,000 banners since March, manager Yao Yuanyuan said, an unusually large number for what is normally the low season, and Yao believes the China-US trade dispute is the reason.

“It’s closely related,” she said. “They are preparing in advance, they are taking advantage of the fact that the tariffs haven’t gone up yet, with lower prices now.”

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese goods.

After Beijing retaliated in kind, Washington announced levies on an additional US$200 billion of products and threatened more, targeting potentially all of China’s exports to the US — including flags.

At about US$1 apiece, the suppliers of the paraphernalia that is to surround the Trump campaign cannot resist the low price offered by Yao’s factory.

She says the buyers are located in both China and abroad, and she does not know if they are affiliated with Trump’s official campaign or the Republican Party.

Her factory has been making Trump banners since the time his tag line as a candidate was “Make America Great Again,” highlighting an irony of his hardline on trade with China.

“Sales have been great ever since 2015,” she said.

However, Trump’s effort to wrest better trading conditions from China threatens Yao’s price advantage and his hardline stance could eventually repel suppliers such as Yao.

“If he continues to demand tariff increases as he has been, or if he continues to agree with those who are against China, I definitely would not be able to accept [more orders],” she said. “Everyone can have a patriotic heart, but this won’t improve his economy.”

Jiahao Flag does not only make Trump banners. It churns out US and other national flags and specialty banners, including rainbow gay pride flags.

However, factory seamstress Sun Lijun is losing no sleep over the trade dispute.

“I know that Trump’s tariffs targeting China will have some effect, but we’re not worried at all, since we’re producing foreign flags every single day,” Sun said.

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