Bible publishers have warned that President Donald Trump’s proposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods could lead to an increase in the cost of Bibles printed in China, possibly even leading to a shortage.
In March 2018, Trump announced that he would be slapping tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminum, citing national security concerns. China responded by adding tariffs of its own to goods imported from the United States. Since then both countries have answered tariffs with more tariffs. These tariffs are paid by American importers, which increases their costs. These tariffs have led to an increase in costs for certain products, including agricultural equipment.
The proposed next move for the United States is to add tariffs to $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. This would include a 25 percent tariffs on printed materials, including Bibles.
What happened now?
“We believe the administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on Bibles and that it never intended to impose ‘a Bible tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” Mark Schoenwald, chief executive officer of HarperCollins Christian Publishing said, according to Bloomberg.
Many U.S. books, including a large percentage of Bibles, are printed in China. According to Bloomberg, book printing has thin margins which makes it unprofitable to produce them in the United States without raising prices.
Stan Jantz, the president and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, said that U.S. publishers were hoping “that there would be an openness and strong consideration for Bibles in particular and also for books” from the administration.
Ironically, while many Bibles that end up in the U.S. are made there, China takes a hard line against Christians in its own country and has been known to burn Bibles. Christianity is seen by the government as a Western influence that threatens Chinese culture.