Back on June 2, President Donald Trump tweeted how the United States cannot lose a trade war, stating,
When you’re almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can’t lose a Trade War! The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart!”
When you’re almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can’t lose a Trade War! The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2018
Now that China has set retaliatory tariffs to the tune of $34 billion, the president will get a chance to test his theory. Can the United States lose in the trade war he started?
Friday began the United States first round of tariffs, also $34 billion worth with plans to quickly raise the total to $50 billion, placed against Chinese goods imported to the United States. The U.S. tariffs hit Chinese aerospace products, information technology, auto parts and medical instruments.
China has focused their first salvo of the war on agricultural products, cars and crude oil. And their targets may impact Trump and the Republican party in November.
The Chinese agricultural tariffs —primarily on soybeans, corn, pork and poultry— hit at the heart of red states that voted for Trump in 2016. If Trump’s decision to start a trade war with pretty much everyone except Russia and North Korea devastates farms and the related industries in those states, that voting block may choose not to vote this November or vote against the Republican Party.
With hopes to retain control of both houses of congress and the furtherance of his agenda on the line, the president cannot afford to anger once loyal supporters just 4 months before the midterm elections.
Trump’s choice of what Chinese products to impose with tariffs points to giving a market advantage domestically to some U.S. companies over other U.S. companies. Those U.S. companies that import their components or raw materials from China will be hurt, while those with other trading partners will benefit from Trump’s tariffs.
But the Chinese tariffs on the U.S.? China’s retaliatory tariffs are set to affect huge sections of the American heartland and deep south where the primary targets are produced.
China chose their first targets well.