October 1, 2019

Why Your Camera Costs Could Increase, Thanks to U.S. and China's Trade War

Here's how the President's tariffs on Chinese goods affected the price of cameras and other gear for filmmakers.

Unless you're a trade expert, economist, or an individual who is able to understand the very complex implications of international financial relations, trade wars and tariffs no doubt make you nervous -- or at the very least -- curious about how they will affect the markets in which you spend your hard-earned cash.

For filmmakers, the tools they use every day, most notably cameras and accessories, have made it on the list of tariffs imposed by the White House on over $500B in Chinese goods. So, how big of an impact will the U.S./China trade war have on camera prices? Rubidium Wu of Crimson Engine digs into this very complicated topic in his latest video.

We are not experts on international trade or global economics, but Wu explains the different moving pieces in this current (and, so far, ineffective for U.S. consumers) trade war, including the policies in the U.S. and China and each country's response to them. These policies, Wu argues, are what will likely increase the price of cameras and filmmaking gear by 35 percent.

But what exact goods are we talking about?

The Federal Register provided a list of goods that will be affected by the recent Section 301 Chinese tariffs. Here are just a handful of items that may have an impact on filmmakers:

  • 8525.80.40: Digital still image video cameras.
  • 9006.40.40: Fixed focus instant print cameras.
  • 9006.40.60: Instant print cameras, other than fixed focus, valued not over $10 each.
  • 9006.40.90: Instant print cameras, other than fixed focus, valued over $10 each.
  • 9006.51.00: Cameras with through-the-lens viewfinder, for roll film of a width not exceeding 35 mm, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.52.10: Fixed focus, hand held, 110 cameras.
  • 9006.52.30: Fixed focus, hand held cameras, other than 110 cameras, for roll film of a width less than 35 mm, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.52.50: Fixed focus cameras nesoi, for roll film of a width less than 35 mm, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.52.60: Cameras, other than fixed focus, nesoi, for roll film of a width less than 35 mm, valued not over $10 each, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.52.91Cameras, other than fixed focus, nesoi, for roll film of a width less than 35 mm, valued over $10 each, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.53.01: Cameras nesoi, for roll film of a width of 35 mm, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.59.20: Cameras of a kind used for preparing printing plates or cylinders.
  • 9006.59.40: Fixed focus cameras, nesoi, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.59.60: Cameras nesoi, other than fixed focus, valued not over $10 each, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.59.91: Photographic cameras, other than fixed focus, valued over $10 each, nesoi.
  • 9006.61.00: Photographic discharge lamp (“electronic”) flashlight apparatus.
  • 9006.69.01: Photographic flashlight apparatus, nesoi.
  • 9006.91.00: Parts and accessories for photographic cameras, not cinematographic.
  • 9006.99.00: Parts and accessories for photographic flashlight apparatus and flashbulbs.
  • 9007.91.40: Parts for cinematographic cameras.
  • 9007.91.80: Accessories for cinematographic cameras.
Holiday Cameras

So, how soon can we expect to see these price hikes? Well, that's a simple question with a complicated answer.

Many things can have an impact on that proposed 35 percent, including how companies will respond with their retail and manufacturing strategies. I think it's safe to assume that camera companies won't take the financial hit themselves and pass on the price increases to the consumer -- but the way in which this is done, and to what degree, remains to be seen. Consumers are certainly not going to bust down any doors to buy a camera with a 35 percent mark up and might be more keen on spending their money on non-taxed goods in order to save.

However, considering the fact that 1), retailers already have a stock of goods bought before the tariffs were put in place, and 2) that stock gives companies a bit of a cushion to potentially find ways to cut costs (e.g. manufacturing their goods outside of China to avoid tariffs, like GoPro did). The U.S. and China have scheduled to have talks in October, so that 35 percent might actually be much lower.

The President (sigh) tweeted earlier this month that the U.S. was going to delay the increased October tariffs as a "gesture of good will." So, I guess... here's hoping an agreement can be made so we don't have to spend an extra $1000 on a new full-frame mirrorless camera.     

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A great objective write-up on a very heated topic.

October 2, 2019 at 1:17PM

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John Watkins
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