Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday revealed he’s talked to the chief financial officer of America’s top retailer after getting heat over proposed tariffs on a variety of consumer goods.
Mnuchin, at a House Financial Services Committee hearing, was asked about the impact of possible 25% tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods but notably children’s products, like diapers, strollers and infant formula.
The U.S. recently raised the tariffs it had applied to roughly $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% and has proposed a 25% tariff on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods not yet subject to those levies.
Responding to Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat who pointed out that his state leads the nation in children per household, Mnuchin replied that he’s talked on the phone with Walmart’s WMT, -0.47% CFO — Brett Biggs, though Mnuchin didn’t name him — to find out what things the company can source from other areas and what they can’t.
“We haven’t made any decisions yet but we will be especially sensitive to the consumer items,” Mnuchin said. The Treasury secretary said there will an exclusion process if there are any additional tariffs and said a decision on those additional tariffs will be made in 30 to 45 days.
One related point Mnuchin made is that the weakening of the Chinese yuan CNYUSD, -0.1591% has offset the impact of the tariffs. That’s true for what were 10% levies but not for the increase to 25%. Over the last year, the dollar has appreciated by about 8% vs. the Chinese currency.
“If we can get a good deal, it will also be very good for the farmers. Unfortunately, we were on track for that, and we’ve gone backwards,” Mnuchin said in response to a question from Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican.
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