Rubber and plastics processing machinery falls under President Trump's additional 25 percent tariffs spanning $34 billion worth of goods from China that began July 6, but officials of injection press importers say not to expect an immediate price jump, since they have machines in stock at U.S. facilities.
However, executives are concerned about what a prolonged trade war could do to the larger economy. A trade-conflict-driven downturn in automotive, an important market segment for rubber and plastics machinery, would damage the equipment sector, they said.
Trump has proposed tariffs of up to 25 percent on foreign cars and trucks. General Motors Co. and other auto makers have warned that tariffs could significantly raise prices of cars sold in the U.S., reduce ? sales and cut jobs.
And while those tariffs remain up in the air, China has retaliated by launching its own tariffs covering agricultural products, autos and other products on July 6.
"It's all connected, at least in my mind. I'm a little more concerned about what happens on the macroeconomic scale," said John Beary, president of Yizumi-HPM Corp.
Executives of Absolute Haitian Corp., Yizumi-HPM and CH-America, which sells Chen Hsong presses, said they have injection molding machines in stock at their U.S. facilities. Because those presses were in the U.S. before the tariff, they are available at the regular price, the officials said.
CH-America President Ken Heyse said the Torrington, Conn., company bought a large number of machines in anticipation of the tariffs. He said there will be a transition period.
"It's not like everybody is going to wake up Monday morning to higher prices," Heyse said.
Looking at rubber and plastics equipment, the China tariffs cover more than injection molding machines. Chinese-made extruders, blow molding machines and thermoformers are on the list, as well as machine beds, platens and some other parts and hydraulic assemblies.
Also on the list: molds for injection and compression molding.
Injection molding machinery officials contacted for this story said customers only recently have started to ask about impacts of the tariffs. But the tariffs—which cover a broad range of industrial goods, not just machinery—probably haven't sunk in yet with many processors, they said.
"I would say the last two to three weeks, the majority of our customers have at least mentioned it as we're quoting new machine sales opportunities," Beary said.