US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

Chad P. Bown (PIIE)

December 19, 2019

This post, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information on trade war events, see "Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide."

PIIE Chart 2019-12-19

The terms of the phase one deal announced on December 13 between the Trump administration and China have established new US tariffs toward imports from China for the foreseeable future. Average US tariffs on imports from China will remain elevated at 19.3 percent, even after the deal is implemented, which is currently expected for February 2020. These tariffs are more than six times higher than before the trade war began in 2018.

At the moment, what is known about China's tariffs is that they will also remain elevated at an average of 20.9 percent, down only slightly from their current average rate of 21.1 percent. However, it seems likely that the details of the phase one deal may include China cutting more of its tariffs on US exports, given Trump administration statements that the deal includes Chinese commitments to make additional purchases of "no less than $200 billion" of US products over the next two years. Furthermore, throughout the trade war, China has consistently timed most of its tariff actions—both retaliatory tariff increases and decisions to hold off previously announced increases—to coincide with Trump's tariff changes going into effect.

Current US tariffs on imports from China average 21.0 percent. The United States will lower its tariffs to 7.5 percent from 15 percent on over $100 billion of Chinese exports when the agreement is implemented, which is expected to be 30 days after it would be signed. The signing is anticipated for early January 2020.

The resulting US average tariffs of 19.3 percent would remain more than 7 percentage points higher than the same period from one year earlier, when the Trump administration and China were first negotiating a deal under the terms of the 90-day tariff truce established in Buenos Aires in December 2018. That phase of talks broke down in May 2019, and both sides raised their tariffs even further.

Overall, the trade war has proceeded in four stages since early 2018. 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 phase three, there was an 8-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. From June to September 2019, another tariff increase phase kicked in.

This chart was adapted from data available in Chad P. Bown's blog post, Phase One China Deal: Steep Tariffs are the New Normal.

More From

Chad P. Bown Senior Research Staff

More on This Topic

Trade and Investment Policy Watch

Chad P. Bown (PIIE)

January 21, 2020
Trade and Investment Policy Watch
January 16, 2020
Trade and Investment Policy Watch

Chad P. Bown (PIIE) and Melina Kolb (PIIE)

January 15, 2020