Tariffs Are Much Worse for China Than US and This Is Why

China is currently the largest goods trading partner of the United States, with $659.8 billion in two-way goods traded during 2018. Goods exports to China were $120.3 billion last year and goods imports totaled $539.5 billion. The trade deficit in goods with China was $419.2 billion. China was shown to be the third largest goods export market for the United States in 2018, but China was also the largest supplier of goods to the United States, at 21.2% of all goods.

The balance shifted a bit in services for 2018. The total trade in services with China totaled an estimated $77.3 billion in 2018 when tallying up exports and imports. U.S. exports of services to China were $58.9 billion, while services imports were $18.4 billion. The United States ran a $40.5 billion trade surplus with China in the services sectors.

There is also a move to show how many jobs are tied to trade as well. Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that the combined exports of goods and services to China supported approximately 911,000 jobs, using the latest data from 2015. Of that total 911,000 jobs, the Commerce Department showed that 601,000 were supported by goods exported and 309,000 supported by services exported.

There are some additional notes to consider that further show how China may have more to lose from the tariffs than the United States. U.S. goods exports to China in 2018 were $120.3 billion, and our exports to China accounted for only about 7.2% of total U.S. exports in 2018.

There was also some data shown regarding sectors and categories of the top U.S. exports to China:

  • Aircraft, $18 billion
  • Machinery, $14 billion
  • Electrical machinery, $13 billion
  • Optical and medical instruments, $9.8 billion
  • Vehicles, $9.4 billion

China is the fourth largest agricultural export market for the United States. Exports of agricultural products to China in 2018 came to $9.3 billion. The top categories of domestic exports were broken down as follows:

  • Soybeans, $3.1 billion
  • Cotton, $924 million
  • Hides and skins, $607 million
  • Pork and pork products, $571 million
  • Coarse grains (such as corn), $530 million

The top import categories are where things get sticky in expecting tariffs to act as a tax to businesses and consumers. The main groups of goods imported from China in 2018 were included with a total of $4.9 billion in agricultural products as follows:

  • Electrical machinery, $152 billion
  • Machinery, $117 billion
  • Furniture and bedding, $35 billion
  • Toys and sports equipment, $27 billion
  • Plastics, $19 billion
  • Processed fruit and vegetables, $1.2 billion
  • Fruit and vegetable juices, $393 million
  • Snack foods, $222 million
  • Spices, $167 million
  • Fresh vegetables, $160 million

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