Bangladesh, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea are victors in the US-China trade war, according to a CNN report.
Americans are buying less from China. But rather than leaning on US producers, they're avoiding President Donald Trump's tariffs by turning to suppliers in other Asian countries.
The trend, which has emerged throughout more than a year of inconclusive trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing, continued through May, according to data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.
During the first five months of the year, the United States imported 12 per cent fewer goods from China during the same time period a year ago. But imports from Vietnam are up 36 per cent, and they increased 23 per cent from Taiwan, 14 per cent from Bangladesh, and 12 per cent from South Korea.
Trump's tariffs have made consumer goods like baseball caps, luggage, bikes and handbags that are manufactured in China more expensive for American importers.
The taxes have also hit a variety of machinery and industrial goods, including parts for dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, and water filters.
Trump said last week that talks are "back on track" and new tariffs are on hold after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 conference in Japan.
But American business owners were startled in May when the administration escalated tariffs on $200 billion of goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent, arguing that China reneged on previous agreements. Trump also threatened to impose new tariffs on the remaining Chinese imports, which would hit smartphones, toys, footwear, and fish.
The president has suggested that Beijing will agree to a deal because the tariffs he's imposed on Chinese goods are driving away business.
"China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own," he said in an interview with CNBC last month.
But it's unclear whether companies are permanently shifting production outside of China, or simply rerouting goods for minimal processing before being shipped to the United States. Vietnam's customs agency said that it would start cracking down on goods of Chinese origin illegally relabeled "Made in Vietnam" by businesses attempting to avoid the US tariffs, according to a report from Reuters.
It's not always easy to find suppliers outside of China that can manufacture the same good with the same quality and for a cheaper price. It's a process that could take months or even years.
Instead, an importer may decide to eat the cost, betting that Trump will lift the tariffs sooner rather than later. They can also choose to pass the cost on to consumers for the time being.
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