Last year, the United States levied about $7.5B in tariffs against the EU. These tariffs, which came into effect last fall, have been applied to certain goods from specific EU countries, as approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Included in the new tariff regulations are selected imports from France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, including a 25-percent tariff on 'agricultural and other products.' Under the umbrella of 'other products' are camera lenses. Leica has long been known for making many of its cameras and lenses in Germany, resulting in US customers being forced to pay more for already expensive Leica lenses.

In order to bypass the US-issued tariff, Leica began work on establishing an alternative production line elsewhere in Europe. Building upon an existing presence in Portugal, Leica will now offer US-based customers nine different M-mount 'Made in Portugal' lenses for a reduced cost relative to their tariff-inflated 'Made in Germany' equivalents. Customers can still choose to pay extra for the same lenses made in Germany.

The nine lenses Leica is currently manufacturing in Portugal for the US market include the following, with Made in Portugal prices listed first and Made in Germany prices listed second:

• Summicron-M 28mm F2 ASPH (Black) - $4,395 (Portugal) - $4,895 (Germany)

• Elmarit-M 28mm F2.8 ASPH (Black) - $2,295 - $2,595

• Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 (Silver) - $2,595 - $2,895

• Summicron-M 35mm F2 ASPH (Black) - $3,295 - $3,695

• Summicron-M 35mm F2 ASPH (Silver) - $3,495 - $3,895

• Summilux-M 50mm F1.4 ASPH (Black) - $3,995 - $4,395

• Summilux-M 50mm F1.4 ASPH (Silver) - $4,195 - $4,695

• Summilux-M 50mm F1.4 ASPH (Black-Chrome) - $4,595 - $5,095

• Summicron-M 50mm F2 (Black) - $2,395 - $2,695

As you can see, the Made in Portugal lenses do not fully capture the 25 percent tariff levied against the imported German versions, but the relocated production does provide some relief to customers in the US. Presumably Leica incurred considerable cost to their business setting up a new production line. Of this, Leica says, 'Leica Camera has made a large investment to establish a second production line in reaction to these global economic developments and market requirements.'

Image credit: Leica Store Miami

Leica continues, assuaging the fears of customers that Made in Portugal lenses will be inferior products, 'With this new production line at Leica Camera’s state-of-the-art facility in Portugal, Leica has decided to offer USA consumers a choice to buy a selection of some of the most popular and essential Leica M-Lenses, stringent to the same quality and standards expected from Leica as our German-made products, Made in Portugal, at a much lower price than their Made in Germany counterparts. The price differential is a direct result of tariffs, and in no way indicative of quality standards.'

If you'd like to learn more about the Leica facility in Portugal, Film and Digital Times published a great tour in 2017.

The nine lenses Made in Portugal lenses Leica has announced will be released in staggered groups. The trio of Leica Summilux-M 50mm F1.4 ASPH lenses will be available this month. In September, the Leica Summicron-M 35mm F2 primes and the Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 will begin shipping. Finally, this December, the final three lenses, the Summicron-M 28mm F2, Summicron-M 50mm F2 and Elmarit-M 28mm F2.8, will become available.

Prospective customers can order any of the nine Portuguese-built lenses from US-based Leica stores, including Leica Store Miami.