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The Surprising Place Where the Proposed Chinese Tariffs Could Hurt

There have been plenty of things written about the proposed tariffs on Chinese goods. We’ve seen opinions fired from both sides on the damage that this trade war could do (or not do, if you’re inclined to be in favor of it).

One industry that hasn’t garnered a whole lot of coverage when it comes to tariffs is the publishing industry. Book publishing is a $151 billion a year global industry, and a huge number of those books are published in China, including Bibles and other Christian books.

Those who have come out against tariffs on Chinese goods have an interesting ally in the Christian publishing industry, some of whose members are lobbying President Trump over what they’re calling a “Bible tax.”

As Bloomberg reports:

Proposed tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods would include printed materials, which would especially affect Bibles and children’s books predominantly produced in China because of the unique paper, printing technology and skills needed, company and trade group officials testified during the second day of a seven-day hearing on the proposed duties Tuesday.

“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, told a panel of officials at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Schoenwald went on to note that the proposed tariffs would hurt the Bible publishing market and lead to higher prices on printed good – which echoes the sentiments of so many who are against tariffs.

China has invested untold amounts of money in improving the quality of book publishing. As a result, children’s books, which are often waterproof and made to withstand abuse, that are printed anywhere else aren’t as durable, which gives publishers even more pause.

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition of the opposition to tariffs and the incredible influence of the evangelical community, whom Trump has courted for years and who has rallied around the president. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association hopes that this means he will at least take the tariff on books off the table. Will their efforts prove even more successful? We can only hope.

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