Posted: Jul 19, 2018
Countries such as China and Mexico have introduced retaliatory tariffs on scores of American goods including pork, soybeans, cheese, and whiskey.
Trump’s trade war is heating up: In response to the U.S. slapping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, not to mention tech goods and other consumer products made abroad, major trade partners including Canada, China, and the European Union have imposed retaliatory tariffs on a wide array of American goods. Among them, not surprisingly, are our food and beverages, including coffee, whiskey, pork, and produce. Economic experts and politicians have warned that long-term, these tariffs could have far-reaching implications, hurting economic growth and leading to job losses.
In April, China, which is America’s biggest trade partner, began imposing tariffs on U.S. goods including soybeans, dairy, and pork, and more tariffs were added in July. “China is likely targeting these products for political reasons,” says Dr. Larry Karp, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California at Berkeley. “The states that grow or raise these products supported Trump. If voters in these areas are hurt from the fallout of a trade war, they might pressure Trump into changing tactics.”
China is targeting the U.S. pork industry especially hard, introducing a 25 percent tariff in April and an additional 25 percent in July. “Pork is very important for the Chinese, but they don’t import that much and the U.S. share is only about 15 percent most years,” explains Michael Reed, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky. Though China has plenty of options to continue fueling its appetite for pork, American pig farmers are seeing their profits erode: China is a major market for pork offal, and since the tariffs were introduced, U.S. pork producers are now being forced to sell parts like hearts, stomachs, and feet to pet food suppliers for much less.
According to Reed, the soybean tariffs could be particularly hard on U.S. farmers: “China often imports about 60 percent of the world’s soybeans and over 50 percent of U.S. soybean exports in a normal year go to China,” he says. “That has impacts on U.S. farmers from East Coast to the Rockies.”
But it’s not all bad news, at least where U.S. consumers are concerned: Steep tariffs mean more of the U.S. pork supply is likely to be sold domestically rather than exported, and more supply means lower prices — so Americans could be paying less for bacon and pork chops, at least in the short-term.
As the list of newly taxed U.S. exports seems to grow by the day, Eater has compiled a running list of all the foods and beverages being affected by Trump’s trade war:
After the U.S. imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports worldwide, Canada retaliated with their own tariffs, which went into effect on July 1. The tariffs affect $12.8 billion worth of American goods, including foodstuffs such as coffee, whiskey, candy, orange juice, yogurt, and condiments.
Following the American tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from countries across the globe, the EU struck back by introducing tariffs on $3.3 billion worth of U.S. goods in late June. Some of the products on the EU’s tariff list seem to have been chosen for their symbolism, rather than for their potential economic impact: Peanut butter, for instance, is a quintessentially American product that never found much of a fan base in Europe.
After the U.S. imposed tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports, Mexico retaliated with tariffs of its own. The taxed products seem to have been chosen strategically to target states and regions with strong ties to the Trump administration: Kentucky, where bourbon is produced, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state. The tariffs, which affect $3 billion worth of American products, went into effect on June 5.
Since erupting earlier this year, the trade war between the U.S. and China has escalated quickly: In March, President Trump signed an executive memo to tax up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports with the intent of penalizing China for unfair trade practices, including allegedly stealing intellectual property from American companies. In April, China retaliated by announcing it would impose tariffs on 128 types of U.S. goods, including dozens of agricultural products such as fruit, nuts, and wine, with the additional taxes ranging from 15 to 25 percent.
Once Trump’s initial tariffs actually took effect in July, China responded in kind by introducing tariffs on 545 more types of U.S. goods. (Some items, such as pork, have now been slapped with two rounds of tariffs, meaning the tax on U.S. pork is now 50 percent —the promised of stacked tariffs also makes it difficult to determine the precise level of tariffs on many items.)
And last week, the Trump administration threatened to tax an additional $250 billion worth of Chinese products, indicating that this trade war is unlikely to slow down anytime soon — though the U.S. is apparently running out of Chinese goods to tax.
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