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Trump Considering 60% Tariff on China

CNBC’s Rebecca Picciotto reported Sunday that “former President Donald Trump plans to escalate the U.S-China trade war he launched during his first term as president if he is elected to the office again in November.”

“The GOP frontrunner confirmed in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he is considering a plan to impose tariffs of 60% or higher on Chinese goods in his potential second term,” Picciotto reported. “Beyond China, the former president has said he would impose a blanket 10% tariff on all U.S. imports, despite broad criticism over how that could hurt consumers.”

“‘You know, obviously, I’m not looking to hurt China. I want to get along with China. I think it’s great. But they’ve really taken advantage of our country,” Trump told (Maria) Bartiromo in an interview that aired Sunday,'” Business Insider’s Kwan Wei Kevin Tan reported.

“The US has been China’s biggest export market for more than 20 years, including $536 billion in exports in 2022,” Bloomberg’s Alicia Diaz reported Sunday. 

Previous China Tariffs

Diaz reported that “the Trump administration began imposing tariffs aimed at curbing imports of Chinese goods in early 2018, eventually escalating to duties on goods ranging from seafood to chemicals by the fall of that year. China responded with retaliatory levies on US imports including soybeans, wheat and poultry.”

Retaliatory tariffs. Courtesy of the USDA ERS.

“President Joe Biden’s administration largely kept the tariffs in place, prompting criticism by business groups that the tariffs have driven up prices and undermined US competitiveness,” Diaz wrote.

“In April 2018, China responded to the tariffs on steel and aluminum by implementing retaliatory tariffs affecting U.S. exports,” according to the USDA Economic Research Service. “This round of retaliatory tariffs covered several U.S. agricultural products, including horticultural products, pork, and tree nuts.”

“Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, including those aimed more broadly than at China, amounted to an $80 billion tax increase on $380 billion worth of imports in 2018-19 according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based research group,” Diaz reported.

Picciotto wrote that “Trump’s trade war with China cost Americans an estimated $195 billion since 2018, according to the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. The economic battle also led to the loss of more than 245,000 U.S. jobs, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.”

For agriculture in specific, “China’s retaliatory tariffs were estimated to reduce U.S. agricultural exports by nearly $26 billion,” according to the USDA ERS. “USDA researchers also reported the reduction in the value of U.S. agricultural exports by trading partner from mid-2018 through the end of 2019.” “China’s tariffs resulted in a 76-percent reduction in the value of U.S. agricultural exports.”

“The tariff dispute also left the U.S. and China, once each other’s biggest trading partners, on rocky geopolitical terms,” Picciotto reported.

Reaction to Tariff Proposal

Successful Farming’s Chuck Abbott reported that “U.S. agriculture would be a target in a new trade war with China, said a private consultant speaking on a think tank panel.”

“‘I do think there is a real risk that the kinds of things being talked about by the Trump campaign and even in the House Select Committee on China report could really be of danger to American agriculture,’ said Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen when asked if U.S. agriculture could afford another trade war,” according to Abbott’s reporting.

Trump’s only significant remaining rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Nikki Haley, who “criticized that policy proposal for the impacts it would have on American pocketbooks,” Picciotto reported. “‘What Donald Trump’s about to do, is he’s going to raise every household’s expenses by $2,600 a year,’ said Haley in a January interview on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box,’ referencing data from the fiscally conservative National Taxpayers Union.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the farm policy news editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism).

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