PORT JEFFERSON, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - Long Island-based Sea Eagle Boats has been importing inflatable boats, paddle boards, and kayaks from China since the late 1990s. As the trade war between the United States and China continues to escalate, co-owner John Hoge finds keeping his business afloat it increasingly difficult.
"Now, we have been forced, so far, to pay $180,000 in tariffs," he said, "which is a lot for a small family business."
In early May, President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. While Trump said that his tariffs are bringing in billions of dollars at China's expense, economic experts argue that United States importers are the ones paying the price.
"Most of the tariffs are going to affect the cost of these imports that American companies are using for production," Stony Brook Professor Juan Carlos Conesa said.
So far, Sea Eagle has already raised prices on its Chinese-made boats 7.5%, leaving many customers unhappy, to say the least.
The family-owned company has tried to bypass the additional expenses, but Hoge said suppliers refuse to move production to other countries. And manufacturing the boats in the United States is too expensive, Hoge said.
"Finding an alternative source for product that has to be made well and has to be made safely is not easy," he said.
Hoge also noted that sales have already dropped this year. He said he fears that he may lose even more of his middle-class customer base once the next wave of Trump tariffs kicks in.