The February 14, 2020 implementation of the phase one agreement between the Trump administration and China established new US tariffs on imports from China for the foreseeable future. Average US tariffs on Chinese exports remain elevated at 19.3 percent. These tariffs are more than six times higher than before the trade war began in 2018. These tariffs cover 66.4 percent of US imports from China, or roughly $335 billion of trade (measured in terms of 2017 import levels).
Average Chinese tariffs on US exports also remain elevated at an average of 21.1 percent. China's retaliatory tariffs continue to cover 58.3 percent of imports from the United States or roughly $90 billion of trade (measured in terms of 2017 import levels). On February 17, 2020, the Chinese government announced an exclusion process whereby Chinese companies could apply for a temporary exemption from the retaliatory tariffs. Nevertheless, China was not able to live up to the commitment of purchasing an additional $200 billion of US goods and services over 2020 and 2021, as described in the legal agreement signed on January 15, 2020.
Overall, the trade war proceeded in five stages between 2018 and 2022. The first six months of 2018 featured only a moderate increase in tariffs. The months of July through September 2018 resulted in a sharp tariff increase on both sides: US average tariffs increased from 3.8 percent to 12.0 percent, and China's average tariffs increased from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent. In stage three, there was an 8-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. From June to September 2019, another set of tariff increases kicked in. In the current stage five, and despite the phase one agreement, tariffs between the two countries remain elevated and are the new normal.
During this same period, China has lowered the tariffs it applies on imports from the rest of the world. China's average tariffs toward those exporters have declined from 8.0 percent in early 2018 to 6.5 percent by early 2022. The United States increased its average tariffs on imports from the rest of the world from 2.2 percent to 3.0 percent over this same period.
Note: This chart was updated from the original data available in Chad P. Bown, 2021, The US-China Trade War and Phase One Agreement (also published in the Journal of Policy Modeling 43, no. 4: 805-843). For information on the temporary product exclusions that each side granted to the tariffs in 2018–20, see the paper. The chart has also been updated to fix an error in the original paper regarding the size of China's tariff change in January 2021.
This chart, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information, see The US-China trade war and phase one agreement and Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide.