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China Just Announced Billions in Retaliatory Tariffs, and It Sure Looks Like They're Targeting Trump Voters

United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photos by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images and Greg Bowker - Pool/Getty Images)

In response to President Donald Trump's announced tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, China has announced $50 billion in retaliatory tariffs, most notably on soybean exports from the United States. It's a move aimed directly at the heart of Trump country, and the effects could easily spiral into economic disaster.


The tariffs on American soybeans are part of China's $50 billion trade penalties in response to the tariffs enacted by Trump last month. Soybeans are the largest American export to China, receiving 61.4 percent of U.S. soybean exports exceeding $14 billion annually.

But the latest move by China is more than just an economic tit-for-tat with the administration. Tariffs on soybeans directly target the heart of Trump country. Eight of the ten biggest soybean producing states voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

Top Republicans have warned Trump that agriculture would be the first major target of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

"Every time you do this, you get a retaliation, and agriculture is the No. 1 target," Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said last month. "I think this is terribly counterproductive for the [agriculture] economy." Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee. His state, Kansas, is the tenth largest producer of soybeans in the country.

USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue vowed to keep farmers out of the crosshairs of a trade war, though how exactly this would be accomplished remains unclear. And while the tariffs are not expected to have a huge impact on the entire economy, the threat of an escalating trade war has Wall Street and Main Street concerned.

"I talked to the President as recently as last night," Perdue said. "And he said, 'Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we're not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We're going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly."

Tariffs on soybeans are not the only penalty China is imposing on American exporters.

China's $50 billion in tariffs includes 106 U.S.-made products, most of which are produced in Trump country. Two other major exports included are cars and whiskey.

Despite his confidence that tariffs will help to close the trade deficit with China, much of the opposition to the policies have been bipartisan, as The Washington Post noted on Wednesday

Former Senator Max Baucus, who co-chairs Farmers for Free Trade, said the Chinese tariffs will hurt “harvesters, processors, truck drivers, rail workers, and main street businesses that rely on a strong agricultural economy” along with farmers.

“We urge the administration to reconsider escalating this trade war,” said Baucus, who served as President Obama’s U.S. ambassador to China.

The full list of the products targeted by China is below:

  1. Yellow soybean
  2. Black soybean
  3. Corn
  4. Cornflour
  5. Uncombed cotton
  6. Cotton linters
  7. Sorghum
  8. Brewing or distilling dregs and waste
  9. Other durum wheat
  10. Other wheat and mixed wheat
  11. Whole and half head fresh and cold beef
  12. Fresh and cold beef with bones
  13. Fresh and cold boneless beef
  14. Frozen beef with bones
  15. Frozen boneless beef
  16. Frozen boneless meat
  17. Other frozen beef chops
  18. Dried cranberries
  19. Frozen orange juice
  20. Non-frozen orange juice
  21. Whiskies
  22. Unstemmed flue-cured tobacco
  23. Other unstemmed tobacco
  24. Flue-cured tobacco partially or totally removed
  25. Partially or totally deterred tobacco stems
  26. Tobacco waste
  27. Tobacco cigars
  28. Tobacco cigarettes
  29. Cigars and cigarettes, tobacco substitutes
  30. Hookah tobacco
  31. Other tobacco for smoking
  32. Reconstituted tobacco
  33. Other tobacco and tobacco substitute products
  34. SUVs with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L
  35. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for SUVs (4 wheel drive)
  36. Vehicles with discharge capacity of 1.5L to 2L
  37. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 1000ml, but not exceeding 1500ml for SUVs (4 wheel drive)
  38. Passenger cars with discharge capacity 1.5L to 2L, 9 seats or less
  39. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 1000ml, but not exceeding 1500ml for 9 passenger cars and below
  40. Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 3L to 4L, 9 seats or less
  41. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 3000ml, but not exceeding 4000ml for 9 passenger cars and below
  42. Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 2L to 2.5L
  43. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2000ml, but not exceeding 2500ml for off-road vehicles
  44. Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 2L to 2.5L, 9 seats or less
  45. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2000ml, but not exceeding 2500ml for 9 passenger cars and below
  46. Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 3L to 4L
  47. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 3000ml, but not exceeding 4000ml for off-road vehicles
  48. Diesel-powered off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L
  49. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for diesel-powered off-road vehicles
  50. Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L, 9 seats or less
  51. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for 9 passenger cars and below
  52. Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of less than 4L
  53. Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement not exceeding 4000ml for off-road vehicles
  54. Other vehicles which are equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor and can be charged by plugging in an external power source
  55. Other vehicles that are equipped with a compression ignition type internal combustion engine (diesel or semi-diesel) and a drive motor, other than vehicles that can be charged by plugging in an external power source
  56. Other vehicles which are equipped with an ignition reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor and can be charged by plugging in an external power source
  57. Other vehicles that are equipped with a compression-ignition reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source
  58. Other vehicles that only drive the motor
  59. Other vehicles
  60. Other gasoline trucks of less than 5 tons
  61. Transmissions and parts for motor vehicles not classified
  62. Liquefied Propane
  63. Primary Shaped Polycarbonate
  64. Supported catalysts with noble metals and their compounds as actives
  65. Diagnostic or experimental reagents attached to backings, except for goods of tariff lines 32.02, 32.06
  66. Chemical products and preparations for the chemical industry and related industries, not elsewhere specified
  67. Products containing PFOS and its salts, perfluorooctanyl sulfonamide or perfluorooctane sulfonyl chloride in note 3 of this chapter
  68. Items listed in note 3 of this chapter containing four, five, six, seven or octabromodiphenyl ethers
  69. Contains 1,2,3,4,5,6-HCH (6,6,6) (ISO), including lindane (ISO, INN)
  70. Primarily made of dimethyl (5-ethyl-2-methyl-2oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methylphosphonate and double [(5-b Mixtures and products of 2-methyl-2-oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methyl] methylphosphonate (FRC-1)
  71. 38248600a articles listed in note 3 to this chapter containing PeCB (ISO) or Hexachlorobenzene (ISO)
  72. Containing aldrin (ISO), toxaphene (ISO), chlordane (ISO), chlordecone (ISO), DDT (ISO) [Diptrix (INN), 1,1,1-trichloro-2 ,2-Bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], Dieldrin (ISO, INN), Endosulfan (ISO), Endrin (ISO), Heptachlor (ISO) or Mirex (ISO). The goods listed in note 3 of this chapter
  73. Other carrier catalysts
  74. Other polyesters
  75. Reaction initiators, accelerators not elsewhere specified
  76. Polyethylene with a primary shape specific gravity of less than 0.94
  77. Acrylonitrile
  78. Lubricants (without petroleum or oil extracted from bituminous minerals)
  79. Diagnostic or experimental formulation reagents, whether or not attached to backings, other than those of heading 32.02, 32.06
  80. Lubricant additives for oils not containing petroleum or extracted from bituminous minerals
  81. Primary Shaped Epoxy Resin
  82. Polyethylene Terephthalate Plate Film Foil Strips
  83. Other self-adhesive plastic plates, sheets, films and other materials
  84. Other plastic non-foam plastic sheets
  85. Other plastic products
  86. Other primary vinyl polymers
  87. Other ethylene-α-olefin copolymers, specific gravity less than 0.94
  88. Other primary shapes of acrylic polymers
  89. Other primary shapes of pure polyvinyl chloride
  90. Polysiloxane in primary shape
  91. Other primary polysulphides, polysulfones and other tariff numbers as set forth in note 3 to chapter 39 are not listed.
  92. Plastic plates, sheets, films, foils and strips, not elsewhere specified
  93. 1,2-Dichloroethane (ISO)
  94. Halogenated butyl rubber sheets, strips
  95. Other heterocyclic compounds
  96. Adhesives based on other rubber or plastics
  97. Polyamide-6,6 slices
  98. Other primary-shaped polyethers
  99. Primary Shaped, Unplasticized Cellulose Acetate
  100. Aromatic polyamides and their copolymers
  101. Semi-aromatic polyamides and their copolymers
  102. Other polyamides of primary shape
  103. Other vinyl polymer plates, sheets, strips
  104. Non-ionic organic surfactants
  105. Lubricants (containing oil or oil extracted from bituminous minerals and less than 70% by weight)
  106. Aircraft and other aircraft with an empty weight of more than 15,000kg but not exceeding 45,000kg