NewsLocal News


Small North San Diego County manufacturer gets $1,648 tariff bill

Posted at 5:13 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 20:56:08-04

VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — A mom-and-pop manufacturer in Vista got a $1,648 tariff bill for importing LCD screens from China.

The bill came amid escalating trade tensions with China.

RJM Music makes MIDI Foot Controllers that some of the world's most famous bands have used, including Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Brad Paisely, Muse and Fall Out Boy.

The company, with three employees, builds its devices in San Diego County. Its main product utilizes 23 LCD screens, a type that co-owner Sheri Minelli says is only available from China.

"We're not Apple," said Minelli, who owns the business with her husband Ron. "We don't get to choose and make something that fits exactly. We have to take what's in the marketplace."

On Aug. 22, the Minellis got a statement from the Department of Homeland Security billing them $1,642 in tariffs. That was 25 percent of their purchase for the LCD screens, which individually cost between $7 and $25.

"China's not paying, I'm paying. And my customers are paying," Minelli said.

In a series of Tweets last week, President Trump ordered U.S. businesses to see alternatives to China. He also announced plans to raise the current 25 percent rate to 30 percent for $250 billion of goods and products on Oct. 1.

The President additionally said he would institute new tariffs of 15 percent on $300 billion starting Sept. 1.

Trump on Monday said talks with China are now restarting.

Minelli said she informed customers that they could see price increases, and may put some hiring plans on hold.