Speed Reads

Trade Wars

Trump imposes new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports in the middle of trade talks

President Trump's threatened 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports took effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, halfway through high-level trade talks in Washington, D.C., led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The tariffs, up from 10 percent, will be in force for shipments leaving China on Friday, so there is still a little time to work out a last-minute agreement. Both sides agreed the trade talks will continue Friday, as planned.

China's Commerce Ministry said it "deeply regrets" Trump's decision and Beijing "will have to take necessary countermeasures." A ministry spokesman added, "We hope that the U.S. and China will meet each other halfway and make joint efforts to solve the existing problems through cooperation and consultation." U.S. officials said the trade talks were progressing smoothly until China sent over significant edits over the weekend, prompting Trump's tariff threat.

Equalizing the trade imbalance with China was one of Trump's big campaign themes, and "U.S. officials said Trump's 'America First' stance rocked Chinese leaders and halted the erosion of American manufacturing and technology industries by Chinese trade practices," The Washington Post notes. But the tariffs — those imposed by Trump and the retaliatory tariffs from China — are hurting both countries, economists say.

On the U.S. side, U.S.-based companies pay Trump's tariffs and pass much of that cost onto consumers, and China's retaliatory tariffs are harming U.S. agriculture and many large industries. A study in March from the World Bank's chief economist and colleagues from UCLA, UC-Berkeley, and Columbia Business School found that "workers in very Republican counties bore the brunt of the costs of the trade war, in part because retaliations disproportionately targeted agricultural sectors." Read The Week's Jeff Spross explain why Trump may have the upper hand on China anyway.