More US Companies Warn Tariffs will Lead to Higher Prices

    29 September, 2018

    A growing number of major American companies are warning that President Donald Trump's tariffs on U.S. imports are raising their costs and prices.

    Jim Hackett, head of Ford Motor Company, said on Wednesday that the new tariffs on steel and aluminum are costing Ford $1 billion. He also said the taxes may cause price increases in the automobile industry.

    Ford is the second-largest automaker in the United States.

    In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013 photo, new 2013 Ford Fusions are seen at an automobile dealer in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

    Walmart, America's largest store, has told the Trump administration that the latest tariffs — on $200 billion of Chinese imports — could increase prices. The company pointed to products like car seats, hats, and bicycles.

    Procter & Gamble, the maker of cleansers and personal care products, has warned of possible price increases and job losses because of the tariffs.

    In addition, drinking Coca-Cola is costing Americans more because of the taxes. Other businesses, like Macy's and Gap, warned of likely price increases.

    On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke about the issue after the Fed's members voted to raise interest rates. The Federal Reserve System is America's central bank.

    Asked about the tariffs forcing up prices for Americans, Powell said that Fed officials are hearing from businesses about possible higher costs.

    "You don't see it yet," the chairman said, commenting about reports the Fed studies.

    However, Powell added that the tariffs might provide a reason for companies to raise prices "in a world where they've been very reluctant to and unable to raise prices."

    Speaking in New York Wednesday, Trump rejected the idea that the tariffs could create an economic risk. He said that Americans would not notice the new taxes.

    "It's had no impact...on our economy," the president said after meetings with foreign leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

    Ford Motor Company's Jim Hackett said that he estimates the latest tariffs will cost his company about $1 billion.

    Ford buys most of its metals from U.S. producers. They have raised prices this year as a result of the tariffs on foreign competitors, the company has said.

    Other companies that make cars in the U.S. are seeing the same price increases, said Peter Nagle of the IHS Markit research service. For now, these businesses are paying the increased costs themselves, but eventually they will have to raise prices, he added.

    Car manufacturers are keeping prices low because they think Americans cannot pay higher prices, Nagle said. But if the tariffs continue, "some of those costs would have to start being passed along" to U.S. buyers.

    The Trump administration set a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum from some countries, including China, in March. It added Canada, Mexico and the European Union to the list in June.

    The administration justified the tariffs by saying foreign steel and aluminum are a threat to U.S. national security.

    Nagle said steel prices are up 25 percent since the tariffs began, and he expects that to rise to near 30 percent next year.

    I'm Susan Shand.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    tariff – n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country

    reluctant – adj. feeling or showing doubt about doing something; not willing or eager to do something

    impact – n. a powerful or major influence or effect

    discount – n. selling goods or services at reduced prices