In May, the USTR released a list of goods imported from China that would be subject to an additional 10% tariff starting in September following US President Donald Trump’s announcement on August 1 that he would be imposing additional tariffs on around $300 billion of Chinese imports.
“Bibles and other religious literature are among the items removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10%,” USTR confirmed to Christianity Today this week.
The news that Bibles would not be subject to Trump’s tariffs was consolation to Christian publishers in the US, who have expressed concern that the tariffs would make Bibles too expensive to manufacture. According to Christianity Today, China is the world's largest Bible publisher, with Chinese Bible printer Amity Press producing around 200 million copies of the religious text since 1988.
“For the past several months, there has been great concern among the Christian publishing community that our important work would be threatened by proposed tariff schedules,” Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of publishing company LifeWay Christian Resources, recently told Christianity Today. “Today's announcement by [USTR] has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern.”
“Nevertheless, I am troubled that the Word of God would ever be taken hostage in an international trade dispute,” he continued. “These past months have strengthened our resolve to get Bibles to the people who need them. Our mandate is built on obedience to Christ, regardless of any policy proposal from Washington DC.”
The American Bible Society (ABS) also applauded the news that Bibles would be excluded from tariffs.
“We are overjoyed and relieved to hear that Bibles will not be included in the initial list of items facing potential tariffs,” Roy Peterson, ABS president and CEO, told Christianity Today. “Any hindrance to Bible access as a result of these tariffs could have severely impacted the ability of people worldwide to engage Scripture and exercise their religious freedom.”
The United States and China have been involved in a trade war since June 2018, when Trump first announced he was imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports in a bid to balance the US trade deficit. Since then, the two countries have introduced several rounds of reciprocal tariffs.