Trump's trade war could lead to a shortage of Bibles in the US
- US President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on Chinese goods could result in a Bible shortage and increased prices for customers, publishers and charities are warning, The Associated Press reported.
- Most Bibles sold in the US are printed in China, and Trump has threatened 25% tariffs on a fresh set of goods imported from China, including books.
- One charity warned the US Trade Representative that the tariffs would "dramatically affect the number of Bibles we are able to print and give away."
- Trump and China struck a truce in their trade war, but the threat of fresh tariffs still remains.
US President Donald Trump's trade war with China could result in a "Bible tax" and a shortage of Bibles, the US' biggest Christian publisher and Bible charities are warning, according to report from The Associated Press.
They say that most of the US' Bibles are made in China, where specific technology is in place, and Trump going ahead with new tariffs on Chinese goods could drive up the price for consumers, and potentially slow production.
Mark Schoenwald, the CEO of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, told the US Trade Representative that the company believes the Trump administration "never intended to impose a 'Bible Tax' on consumers and religious organizations," The Associated Press reported.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing owns the two largest Bible printing companies in the US, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. Schoenwald said that together they command 38% of the US Bible market, according to the AP.
But he said that around 75% of the companies' expenses when making Bibles are occurring in China. Trump has previously threatened to impose a 25% tariff on an additional $300 billion (R4.2 billion) of Chinese goods, which would include books.
Trump struck a temporary truce with China at the G20 summit in June so that negotiations on the countries' trade can continue.
Bible publishers and organisations are warning that if Trump ended the truce and went ahead with new tariffs it harm their Bible production and drive up costs for consumers.
Stan Jantz, the president and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, told the AP that more than half of the world's Bibles are made there. Tariffs would likely drive up the price of Bibles, he added.
Geof Morin, the president and CEO of Bible publishing charity Biblica, told the AP he had warned the US Trade Representative that a tariff on Bibles would "dramatically affect the number of Bibles we are able to print and give away.
This in turn, Morin said, would impact "the religious freedom of individuals in countries where Bible access is limited and often nonexistent."
Biblica gives Bibles to people in 55 countries, and Morin provided a transcript of his conversation with the the US Trade Representative to the AP.
Schoenwald said that Bible companies are left with little choice but to print in China.
"US printers moved their Bible printing facilities abroad decades ago, leaving no substantial domestic manufacturing alternatives."
Other industries have also warned of the impact that tariffs would have on their production, and on prices for US customers.
Nike, Adidas, and more than 170 other shoe companies warned Trump in May that tariffs would have a "catastrophic" impact on Americans, costing customers an extra $7 billion a year.
And Walmart warned in May that it will increase prices if tariffs increase. CFO Brett Biggs said: "Increased tariffs will lead to increased prices, we believe, for our customers."
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