China/US Trade War Is Coming to Your Club

If you are a club or mahjong player in the United States, hold on to your wallets.

The latest round of trade tariffs imposed on goods and materials imported from China will add a 25% hike will be tacked on to anything falling under the list of 5,745 types of products. In this case we are looking at plastic textiles and some other petroleum based goods.

Guess what? This includes your mahjong tile sets.

Japanese style tiles aren’t a staple in most places around the country, but there are one or two reliable sources for affordable tiles that ship within the U.S., and others that can ship TO the U.S. Unfortunately, most of these products come stamped “Made in China”.

Cost increases are a normal over time. Take the Japanese mahjong set usually sold by Yellow Mountain Imports. For years these staples were priced at around $50 – $55 since they were first listed on Amazon in 2010. (They are cheaper on the company store, plus shipping.) Last winter, they disappeared—not just from the online mega-store, but from YMI’s own website. In response to inquiry they stated that they didn’t have a firm date when tiles would be back in stock, but to check back in the spring. Now they are back, but at a near 20% cost increase across the board.

Chinese and American sets are going to suffer the same as there aren’t any domestic manufacturers in the U.S. If there were, we would likely see a cost increase anyway: when imports drop due to higher costs, domestic manufacturers raise prices to meet the higher demand. Hooray, capitalism!

Since this only affects anything imported from China, you should not see much change in tiles bought directly from Japan if they were produced or “assembled” there.

Here’s the full tariff list published back in September (US-China Tariff List 09.17.18 by Brett LoGiurato)