Trump's Latest Trade War Escalation Will Push Average Tariffs on China Above 20 Percent

Chad P. Bown (PIIE) and Eva (Yiwen) Zhang (PIIE)

August 6, 2019

Trump’s Latest Trade War Escalation Will Push Average Tariffs on China Above 20 Percent

President Trump said on August 1, 2019, immediately following another round of US-China trade negotiations, that the United States would impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion of imports from China, going into effect September 1, 2019. This would raise the average US tariff on China to 21.5 percent, up from 18.3 percent in May 2019 and from 3.1 percent since Trump took office.

Trump is partially following through with his May 2019 threat to impose 25 percent tariffs on the $300 billion of goods, so higher tariffs may be forthcoming. For context, China would face a 38.6 percent US tariff if it were not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The affected imports include final consumer goods, such as toys, footwear, and clothing. Once in effect, 97 percent of US imports from China will be covered by some type of special tariff.

This chart was adapted from Chad P. Bown and Eva (Yiwen) Zhang’s blog post, “Trump's 2019 Protection Could Push China Back to Smoot-Hawley Tariff Levels.”