Christian book publishers are pleading with President Donald Trump not to impose "a Bible tax," reported Bloomberg.
The US and China have been locked in a tit-for-tat trade war for more than one year, now risk the chance of a full-blown economic war. In the last several weeks, President Trump threatened China with a 25% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. If President Trump goes ahead with the next round of tariffs, it'll damage the Bible and the children's book industry because both have significant printing presence in China.
"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 US International Trade Commission.
Bloomberg noted that Bibles and children's books are primarily manufactured in China because of the "unique paper, printing technology and skills needed."
Daniel Reynolds, CEO of Workman Publishing Co., said there are no viable options outside of China to print children's books because of the waterproof and nontoxic materials used in some cases, as well as China's investment in recent decades in equipment.
"If tariffs are imposed, there will be fewer books available to American kids," he said.
M. Luisa Simpson, the vice president for global policy at the Association of American Publishers, told the panel that the American printing industry has been in decline for three decades and said reworking complex supply chains out of China to the US would be impossible because of the thin profit margins.
Simpson warned that price hikes could be coming to books if publishers have to move supply chains.
Stan Jantz, head of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, told the panel he hopes the president will wake up to just how damaging his tariffs could be on the book industry. Jantz mentioned that evangelicals are some of the president's largest supporters, and he hopes the trade war will find a resolution in the near term.
"I know there's a great interest in the area of religious freedom and access to religious goods on the part of the administration," Jantz said after he spoke with the panel. "We do hope that there would be an openness and strong consideration for Bibles in particular and also for books."
Again, just like the farmers, many of President Trump's base didn't do their homework in understanding what a trade war would do to businesses with complex supply chains. This is a delicate balancing act for the president and could risk a loss of votes from the business community if the trade war continues to deepen into 2H19.