Bad news for fans of tabletop games: as part of a fairly controversial economic mandate against China, the US government has called for a tax hike on, amid a laundry list of other goods, dice, board games, and presumably game pieces. The tariff comes as part of a trans-Pacific trade war between the two economic powerhouses which could inflate the price of some imported products by as much as 25%.
The official proposal specifically ordains an increased tax on “chess, checkers, backgammon, and o/table and parlor games played on boards of a specific design and parts thereof…” A further subheading also describes a potential tax increase on “toys, including riding toys o/than bikes, puzzles, reduced scale models.” It’s difficult to definitively state what exactly this means for or how it will impact the board game industry, but it’s safe to say that hobbyists may have to deal with some sort of economic setback should these taxes be levied as expected.
Slated to go into effect on the first of June this year, these proposed tariffs have received mix receptions from the public. The basic theory seems to be that a decreased reliance on Chinese products and goods initiated as a result of this mandate will stimulate the first and secondary economic sectors of the United States, while simultaneously forcing the Chinese government to offer its trading partners more lucrative treaties. That said, some fear that American consumers won’t be able to bear the increased prices imposed by the tariff while China simply takes its business elsewhere.
That’s an extremely rudimentary explanation of the topic, of course, but the bottom line remains the fact that physical media of all kinds is likely to increase in price over the next few months. While it would take a considerable amount of analysis to determine exactly what this will mean for tabletop gamers, it would probably be best to purchase and import things sooner rather than later.
There has been conversation in the past regarding board game manufacturers either relying on Chinese products or basing their businesses in China itself. While this can often drive the price of certain goods and services down by a significant margin, some have argued that it comes as a result of human rights violations. The condition of many manufacturing facilities in and around the territory are notoriously grim, and some have argued that it may be unfair to benefit financially from such morally-grey business practices.
Board game Kickstarter projects have been especially successful in the past few years, and are heavily reliant on China to mass produce hundreds of plastic miniatures or cardboard chits at a time.
Of course, only time will tell if these new trade tariffs will bring about any sort of benefit. The POTUS has long cried foul when it comes to the economic give and take of the United States’ Eastern trade relations, though it would take some serious know-how to accurately determine exactly what this means for the global economic structure. When it comes down to brass tax, it seems like those who enjoy a good board game every once and a while will have to pay just a little bit more for the foreseeable future. Beyond that, well, it’s anyone’s guess.