SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A local business owner is weighing in on President Trump’s latest decision to postpone the 25 percent tariff increase on Chinese goods.
It was supposed to take effect Jan. 1. WTOC has been following this developing story since October when the first round of tariffs were imposed, increasing by 10 percent. The tariffs on Chinese goods impacts items like electronics, furniture, appliances, even cars.
Since then, retailers have been hustling to stay competitive with their prices despite the increase.
Ruel Joyner, who owns 24e Design Co. in downtown Savannah, says his prices have not changed. He's among some retailers in the U.S. who are have negotiated a deal with Chinese manufacturers.
“You know, it’s always a negotiation but they were amicable to it,” Joyner said. “We were able to leverage some of our buying power and they were able to show us their appreciation for what we were doing. Once again, it’s about a partnership.”
Joyner says their customers have yet to notice the 10 percent increase because they are absorbing about half of it and their manufacturers are absorbing the rest. The bigger threat was going to be on January 1, 2019 when it was supposed to jump to 25 percent.
“25 percent for either side is significant,” Joyner said. “It’s strongly significant because you know we are just furniture.”
He says this increase was going to be harder to swallow to ensure that it would not be passing it down to their customers, but just this week, President Trump agreed to delay the 25 percent increase for 90 days to give both China and the U.S. time to work out a deal.
Come March, if no deal is reached, the increase will be imposed, and should that happen, Joyner says they will go back to the negotiating table.
"Everybody is always interested in negotiating and there’s nobody that’s better at it than the Chinese,” Joyner said.
About 30 percent of their furniture comes from China, but if they can’t negotiate a deal with their manufacturers, Joyner says he’s prepared to take his business elsewhere.
"There’s a lot of people who want that business. We’ve got great manufacturing partners in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and not to mention America,” Joyner said.
Despite fluctuations in the market this week and speculation that the economy is headed towards a recession, Joyner, whose business is usually the first to be impacted by the market, says he is anticipating 2019 to be a good year for business.
As for customers, he says he can only speak for his business but he is guaranteeing that his prices won’t change regardless of whether the tariffs increase.
“It’s all about the customer, and if you haven’t figured that out, they’ll teach you, and at the end of the day, we are here to service them a great product, at a great value and it’s always about them,” Joyner said.
See the full interview below: