Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS
Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

London — Much has been made of how businesses are suffering from US tariffs on everything from Chinese steel wiring to plastic tubes, but companies cannot go to the US polls in November 2020 and punch a ballot. 

American women can, however, and the trade war may provide extra motivation.

Katica Roy, the CEO of Pipeline Equity, says the tariffs US President Donald Trump has slapped on imports are disproportionately hurting women. If he puts a 10% tax on the remaining $300bn of Chinese products, including consumer items such as smartphones and apparel, he risks hurting a segment of voters whose support he can ill-afford to lose.

“As women continue to increase their voting rates and their economic influence, they will continue to vote with their wallets,” Roy says. “This does not bode well for Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.”

Roy starts with the premise that there is an unintentional but real gender bias in the way US tariff rates are applied on imported products. The extra costs are passed on to consumers. She cites some interesting examples of the so-called pink taxes.

The tariff fallout debate has mostly revolved around economics — the extent to which companies or consumers, or both, are feeling the pain of higher import taxes. But as a wider swathe of the American shopping cart gets hit, the gender politics of trade policy may seep more into the discussion.

“More money is going out of women’s wallets compared to men for similar products,” Roy says. “As the tariff burden continues to grow for both genders, it’s worth questioning if, and how, the impact of tariffs help US consumers and the economy as a whole.”


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