Trade War Could Raise Prices of Chinese TVs in U.S.

If you’ve been reading the news lately, it’s likely you are aware that there is a trade war brewing between the United States and China. Leaving out the debate over the wisdom involved in the politics that would result in such a situation, there is a very real issue for AV enthusiasts: The latest round of proposed 25% tariffs on Chinese imports would include flat-panel TVs.

Among the consumer goods that could be impacted by tariffs, TVs represent the single largest category followed by printers. Motor vehicles and computers also make the list, but TVs sit at the top, with half the units exported to the U.S. coming from China.

A 25% tariff on a TV will have a sizable impact on the price of Chinese offerings. Of course, it could also result in Chinese brands moving some manufacturing to North America in order to avoid the tariffs; nobody knows what the consequences of a trade war would be.

There’s much complexity here, including the fact that the LEDs used in LCD TVs are also subject to a tariff, meaning that the trade war could impact the cost of all LED-LCDs. Of course, this entire discussion could wind up being purely academic if the threats of an impending trade war turn out to be nothing but political Bluster.

So far, the major TV manufacturers have not provided official comments to the media on this topic. But it’s fair to say that if there is a trade war, consumers will have to absorb a yet to be determined bump in TV prices, especially among the brands that have thus far been fighting a price war that has up until now benefited consumers.

Will tariffs on Chinese TVs bring more manufacturing to Mexico, or even the U.S.? Could it wind up benefiting brands such as Sony, LG and Samsung that sell premium products manufacturing outside of China? Will this create an opening for market reentry by Panasonic? Would you still buy a Chinese TV if it cost 25% more?

The current situation creates nothing but questions, only time will provide the answers.