HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. has expressed concern over the possibility of tariffs on books and printed materials from China, stating that it might “damage” Bible sales in the United States.
HarperCollins oversees the largest Bible publishers in the United States, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. About 75 percent of their Bible production expenses are in China.
The company explained that they believe “imposing tariffs on books and Bibles would seriously and disproportionately damage our business and our customers.”
“HCCP supports the Administration’s efforts to negotiate more equitable terms with China concerning the protection and transfer of intellectual property,” the company said in a public comment to Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative. The Christian Post received a copy of the comment.
“However, we believe that imposing tariffs on printed books and Bibles will sacrifice long-standing U.S. policy exempting books and related materials from trade restrictions without having any impact on China’s policies on intellectual property.”
HarperCollins went on to explain that it lacked the resources to maintain their production of Bibles relying on alternatives outside of China.
“HCCP’s possible non-Chinese alternatives do not have the range of facilities to be able to manufacture the Bibles currently made in China,” the company continued.
“To the limited extent they do, they have sharply limited capacity unable to absorb the much larger Chinese volume, and their prices are already comparable to the costs we would incur under our long-term agreements in China – inclusive of the proposed tariffs.”
Mark Schoenwald, president and chief executive officer of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, also testified at a hearing held June 18 before the USTR.
In his testimony, Schoenwald warned that a possible tariff on Bibles could force price increases on their products that would compel them to “discontinue editions with the features that Bible consumers value the most and have come to expect.”
“Many of these Bible purchasers are churches, non-profit organizations, ministries, schools and other organizations that seek to study and spread the Word of God,” stated Schoenwald.
“Outreach efforts of these organizations will inevitably be affected by the cost increase imposed by these proposed tariffs.”
A representative of HarperCollins explained to CP on Tuesday that they had no further comment on the current developments on the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.
In late June, the talks between the two nations were put on hold. However, they are expected to restart this week.