• Local impact of escalating trade war with China

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    In the Kent warehouse of Granite and Marble Specialties, robots cut, edge and polish new countertops.

    Owner Kurt Karimov says that for new kitchen counters, quartz is all the rage.

    It also almost all comes from China, which means prices are rising in the trade war.

    Even before the escalation of the last few days, tariffs were already sky-high.

    "It's almost 400-600 percent," Karimov said.

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    Because he was able to buy the inventory from companies that went out of business, Karimov said he has enough quartz on hand to protect his customers from big cost increases for the next several months.

    He's now trying to buy from Chinese companies that have set up factories in Vietnam, The Philippines or South Korea, which he says will reduce the tariff to about 25 percent.

    If the trade dispute continues, expect to pay much more for kitchen remodels.

    Impacts are being felt across the economy, as well as in local governments.

    Puget Sound transit agencies import ORCA payment cards from China and are now facing a 25 percent tariff, raising the price 48 cents each.

    Because 750,000 new cards are needed this year, they will cost another $400,000.                

    The money is coming from a contingency fund.

    "This is not going to increase the costs to our customers," said Scott Thompson of Sound Transit. "The cost will be the same, it's still going to be $5 to purchase a card."

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