By Hallie Detrick
August 8, 2018

The Trump administration just announced tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese imports to the U.S.

This latest round makes good on the president’s promise in June to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods. An earlier round of tariffs that went into effect on July 6 applied to $34 billion in imports. The additional tariffs will go into effect on August 23.

A list published by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office indicated 279 import product lines for tariffs. Here’s what’s new.

True to their word

The latest round of tariffs demonstrates that the administration is willing to keep its word on threatened tariffs. Of the list of 284 goods on which the administration threatened tariffs in June, only five have been removed from the list. That level of consistency may be a warning to China not to take the administration’s threats of a 10% tariff on an additional $200 billion in imports lightly. Like the July 6th round of tariffs, the goods on the latest list are primarily raw materials for manufacture, rather than consumer goods. If the $200 billion in threatened tariffs were to go into effect, consumer goods would be hit harder.

Domestic fatigue

U.S. businesses are growing more weary after months of a trade war most of them recommended against. Industry groups have warned the administration that the trade war will have long-term effects on farmers, manufacturers, and consumers, while the Semiconductor Industry Association said it was “disappointed and puzzled” that their products were on the list of tariffs released Tuesday. On the day of the announcement, the trade war took its latest casualty as a TV manufacturing plant in South Carolina was forced to cut back to a skeleton crew. The layoffs are another step toward the 2.6 million American jobs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says could be lost because of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

At loggerheads

After months of escalation, neither China nor the U.S. seems willing to make any concessions to end the trade war. After an earlier offer by the Chinese to buy more American goods to settle the trade dispute was rejected, the two sides haven’t held negotiations for months, volleying tariffs back and forth instead. Last week Chinese authorities said they were prepared to tariff another $60 billion in U.S. goods, though they didn’t provide a timeline for the introduction of these tariffs. As Vox points out, it’s difficult at this point to see how either side could back down, meaning we could be in this trade war for the long haul, even though almost no-one wants it.

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