New US tariffs loom over $160 billion in Chinese goods

The Trump administration remains on schedule to impose a new round of tariffs on Dec. 15 covering $160 billion of additional U.S. goods imports from China, but major retail and agriculture trade associations hope they can still be avoided.

“This trade war has lasted long enough and done enough damage. It’s time the administration finalize a deal with China to end the trade war and remove all tariffs,” said Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for Americans for Free Trade, in a statement.

As reported by CNBC, some trade analysts believe there will be an “eleventh hour” trade deal reached between the U.S. and China before the Dec. 15 deadline.

Many U.S. importers and exporters were relieved on Oct. 11 when the Trump administration suspended a threatened Oct. 15 increase in tariffs from 25% to 30% on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. So far, U.S. tariffs cover an estimated $550 billion of Chinese goods.

That increase was first announced by the White House in late August in response to China’s decision to impose new tariffs on U.S. goods. The Trump administration has justified the use of tariffs as a way to force China to negotiate more favorable trade conditions for U.S. industries. However, the tariffs have caused trade between the two countries to decline in recent months.

Monthly US Customs Maritime Import Shipments (China to United States)
Source: SONAR Freight Market Dashboard

President Trump said on Oct. 11 that trade talks in Washington between China’s Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin resulted in a “phase one deal,” which will encompass new intellectual property and financial services protections and require China to import up to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural products.

Both U.S. and Chinese government officials said the phase one deal negotiations are continuing.

Tariffs paid by American consumers and business continue to mount. According to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, $7.2 billion was spent to cover the cost of existing tariffs on Chinese goods imports in October. More than $42 billion has been spent by Americans to cover tariffs between February 2018 and October 2019.

“Yet even when faced with this staggering number, it’s still unclear whether the president will follow through with his threat to raise taxes yet again on Dec. 15th with another rounds of tariffs, this time on primarily consumer-facing products like toys and consumer electronics,” Gold said.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland compiled the data in partnership with The Trade Partnership, a Washington, D.C.-based international trade and economics consulting firm. The monthly import figures were calculated based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, while the monthly export data was compiled from Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers, the group said.

Chinese tariffs on American exports have totaled $12 billion since February 2018 and have primarily focused on U.S. agricultural exports.

“The president needs to show he can close not just a phase one deal but a comprehensive deal that rolls back the tariffs and ends the trade war. Farmers want long-term reliable markets,” said Brian Kuehl, co-executive director of Farmers for Free Trade.