Businesses, construction industry worry about impacts of higher tariffs on China

Updated: May. 9, 2019 at 6:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For Hawaii businesses, an increase of tariffs on China would not be so sweet ― because those price increases would be passed on to island consumers.

“We are hoping the tariffs are not going to go through. It’s just gearing up. We are going to see a price increase,” said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

"It's not just punishing China. It's punishing consumers because Hawaii is going to be even more expensive," she added.

[Read more: Escalation in Trump tariffs looms over US-China trade talks]

Higher tariffs on more than $200 billion of imports could impact thousands of goods ― from electronics to cars to clothes.

“If it’s not in a warehouse in the California or a warehouse here, it’s almost certainly going to be impacted,” said Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

Researchers found U.S. consumers are spending $1.5 billion more each year on washers and dryers after President Trump's 2018 washing machine tariffs.

Bonham says he bought a new washer and dryer to avoid paying more.

"I knew the price was going to go up and turns out the prices did go up between a $100 and $200," said Bonham.

Hawaii’s construction industry is also nervous about rising costs of supplies.

Costs of doing business like regulation, shipping and labor are already steadily going up when the industry is trying to make homes more affordable.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts when these price increases happen so it’s a little bit here. It’s a little bit there. Any time there’s something significant, it really gets felt across our industry,” said Marshall Hickox, president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.

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