Aug 09, 2019 - 4:30pm

Quick Take: Your Primer on Trump’s China Tariffs

Fill me in:

Following an investigation into China’s forced technology transfer and intellectual property practices, the Trump administration has imposed a total of approximately $250 billion in tariffs on imported Chinese products. In turn, China has retaliated with a total of $110 billion in tariffs against American-made products.

The tariffs came in waves:

  • July 6, 2018: U.S. imposed 25% tariffs on $34 billion of imports of Chinese goods, and China immediately retaliated with tariffs on U.S. exports in the same amount. 
  • August 23, 2018: U.S. imposed 25% tariffs on an additional $16 billion of imports Chinese goods, and China immediately retaliated with tariffs on U.S. exports in the same amount.
  • September 24, 2018: U.S. imposed tariffs on approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including many everyday consumer products like electronics and housewares. China again retaliated with tariffs on another $60 billion of American-made products.
  • May 10, 2019: U.S. increased tariffs on approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.
  • Coming on September 1, 2019: The U.S. is proposing to levy tariffs of 10% on all goods imports from China not yet subjected to Section 301 tariffs (valued at approximately $325 billion).

Why does it matter?

It will hit American consumers and businesses – including manufacturers, farmers, and technology companies – with higher costs on commonly used products and materials, and as a result, it stands to slow the United States’ recent economic resurgence. The tariffs on imported Chinese goods is the latest in a string of potentially economically crippling trade developments, including the already implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum and the proposed tariffs on cars and auto parts.

Numbers to know: 

  • 455,000. That’s the number of American jobs estimated to be put at risk by U.S. tariffs on $150 billion of imports from China and Chinese retaliation, according to a study commissioned by the Consumer Technology Association and the National Retail Federation.
  • $500. That’s the cost to the average American household of the latest wave of tariffs, according to Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis.

Our take:

"The American business community urges the administration and the Chinese government to move forward expeditiously and in good faith to strike a high-standard, comprehensive, enforceable agreement, and end the tariffs now in place. Prolonging trade tensions and the escalation of tariffs are in neither country’s interest." – Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Read more)

What’s next? 

The White House has warned that it could effectively impose tariffs on all goods the U.S. imports from China. At this point, it’s unclear how China would respond to such an escalation, but some economists speculate that they could ramp up the rates of their current tariffs from 5% and 10% to 25% as well as increase discrimination against U.S. companies operating in China beyond current levels. 

These are the latest development in an escalating trade war that is already having damanging effects on American consumers and businesses. Hear from the farmers, manufacturers, and others that are already feeling the impact.

More reading

Related: Cost of Recent Trade Policies Rack Up

Originally published: 9/25/2019. Latest update: 8/9/2019.

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