How Tariffs on China are Damaging the Natural Stone Market

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A Brief History

In 2018, President Donald Trump of the United States of America (U.S.) began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China with the goal of forcing it to make changes to what the U.S. says are “unfair trade practices.”  Waging a trade war can bring a nation’s economy to its proverbial knees. In the case of the current trade war between China and the United States, the American farmer has received a tremendous blow, as the once wide open Chinese market has closed because of the imposition of costly tariffs. Although not as well-publicized, another American industry has taken a hit as well because of the onerous surcharges slapped on products leaving the Chinese marketplace

Digging Deeper

The Affect of Tariffs on the Home Improvement Industry

Because of the strong American economy, the home improvement industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the past few years. Due to a new round of tariffs, the cost of doing business in the home improvement industry has increased substantially.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the latest round of tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration covers around $10 billion of Chinese manufactured products for the home renovation industry. The tariffs imposed by the United States government started at 10%, with a 25% tariff rate possible by the end of 2019. The National Association of Home Builders estimates the new round of tariffs equate to a tax on the home improvement industry that exceeds $2.5 billion.

One Contractor’s Story

Washington, D.C. represents one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. Long time independent contractor Justin Sullivan manages several home improvement projects currently being performed in the national’s capital. Since tariffs have raised the cost of raw materials, such as the price of the natural stone used to design and manufacture countertops, Sullivan says he is implementing a business practice he has never used before.

“Clients and contractors are having to set contracts with escalation clauses for projects that are being scheduled for six months from now, largely because we’re not sure how far prices are going to go north,” Sullivan stated in a home improvement industry publication. “It makes them (homeowners) want to do the project more quickly, trying to get it done. Then it’s looking at ways to save money that will bring down the costs so the overall budget does not increase. It puts a little bit more pressure on everyone to try and be as diligent about the costs as possible.”

How Tariffs Are Hurting the Natural Stone Market

The latest round of tariffs has made a negative impact on the natural stone market, especially a negative impact on granite, marble, and quartz. A recent investigation led by the United States Commerce Department discovered the illegal dumping of Chinese quartz into the American market. The investigation revealed several exporters of natural stone received generous subsidies ranging from more than 35% to nearly 200%. Because of the illegal dumping, the American government will impose additional tariffs on natural stones that originate in China. In 2018, quartz surface products manufactured in China had a value exceeding $460 million.

How the Tariffs Affect the Price of Granite

A recent study released by showed the price for both marble and granite remained steady throughout 2018. As we head into the fourth economic quarter of 2019, there are signs that the price of granite is slowly on the rise, which you can get more information on here. The reason for the gradual price increase is not known, with some economists believing the price increase is the result of more demand, while other economists attribute the price increase to the tariffs imposed by the American government.

China is one of the primary suppliers of granite tiles for the United States market. Because of the new round of tariffs, some home improvement industry analysts expect the price of granite to increase at a more rapid rate. Some big box home improvement retailers such as Lowe’s are charging up to 20% more for large granite slabs. Moreover, importers are now trying to learn numerous new tariff classifications that apply to the natural stone market.

Current Cost of Granite

Granite kitchen and bathroom countertops remain one of the most popular style of countertops installed by homeowners. Sleek granite enhances the visual appeal of a bathroom or a kitchen, which typically translates into a higher home value. The rugged natural stone withstands the punishment delivered by frequent heavy use. From slicing vegetable to cooking a stew, granite is both dent and heat resistant to give homeowners years of high performance use.

The decision to go with a granite slab or granite tiles depends on the extent of your home improvement project, as well as how much you can afford to spend on the installation of a kitchen or a bathroom countertop. As of September 2019, a granite slab countertop costs between $40 and $60 per square foot. Granite tiles cost $5 to $15 for every square foot added on a countertop. The average cost for installing a granite countertop, which includes labor and materials, currently runs from $2,000 to $4,500.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Lau, Lawrence J.  The China-U.S. Trade War and Future Economic Relations.  The Chinese University Press, 2018.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by The White House from Washington, DC of President Trump at the G20, is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain.  This image was originally posted to Flickr by The White House at It was reviewed on  by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the Public Domain Mark.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland