Tracking The Economic Impact of U.S. Tariffs and Retaliatory Actions

June 22, 2018

09/18/2018 update: We’ve updated our estimate to include the recently announced 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China, shown in Table 1. We also updated our estimate to reflect the two additional threats of tariffs on imports from China, shown in Table 2: increasing the recently announced 10 percent tariff on $200 billion to 25 percent, and imposing an additional 10 percent tariff on the remaining $267 billion worth of imports from China.


Estimates on this page will be updated weekly to reflect current U.S. and retaliatory tariffs and their impact on the economy. Click the links below to jump directly to each estimate.

The Impact of Trade and Tariffs on the United States

Introduction

The Trump administration has imposed and threatened several rounds of tariffs in 2018, and other countries have responded to these measures. Using the Tax Foundation Taxes and Growth Model, we analyze the effects of enacted, threatened, and retaliatory tariffs on the United States economy. Tariffs damage economic well-being, and lead to a net loss in production and jobs, and lower levels of income.

According to the Tax Foundation model, the tariffs planned and enacted so far by the Trump administration would reduce long-run GDP by 0.12 percent ($30 billion) and wages by 0.08 percent and eliminate 94,303 full-time equivalent jobs. If the Trump administration acts on threats to place new tariffs on automobiles and parts and additional tariffs on products from China, GDP would fall by an additional 0.38 percent ($94 billion), resulting in 0.24 percent lower wages and 292,648 fewer full-time equivalent jobs.

Other countries have also announced intentions to enact tariffs on U.S. exports. If these tariffs are fully enacted, we estimate that U.S. GDP would fall another 0.09 percent ($23.5 billion) and cost an additional 72,864 full-time equivalent jobs.

If all tariffs announced thus far were fully enacted, U.S. GDP would fall by 0.59 percent ($148 billion) in the long run, effectively offsetting one-third of the long-run impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Wages would fall by 0.38 percent and employment would fall by 459,816.

Tariffs Raise Prices and Reduce Economic Growth

Economists generally agree that free trade increases the level of economic output and income, and conversely, that trade barriers reduce economic output and income.[1] Historical evidence shows that tariffs raise prices and reduce available quantities of goods and services for U.S. businesses and consumers, which results in lower income, reduced employment, and lower economic output.[2]

Tariffs could reduce U.S. output through a few channels. One possibility is that a tariff may be passed on to producers and consumers in the form of higher prices. Tariffs can raise the cost of parts and materials, which would raise the price of goods using those inputs and reduce private sector output. This would result in lower incomes for both owners of capital and workers. Similarly, higher consumer prices due to tariffs would reduce the after-tax value of both labor and capital income. Because these higher prices would reduce the return to labor and capital, they would incentivize Americans to work and invest less, leading to lower output.

Alternatively, the U.S. dollar may appreciate in response to tariffs, offsetting the potential price increase on U.S. consumers. However, the more valuable dollar would make it more difficult for exporters to sell their goods on the global market, resulting in lower revenues for exporters. This would also result in lower U.S. output and incomes for both workers and owners of capital, reducing incentives for work and investment, and leading to a smaller economy.

Tariffs Enacted by The United States

The Trump administration has enacted tariffs on imported solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum, and various products imported from China. We estimate that these measures will amount to a total tax increase of nearly $42 billion.

Washing Machines

In January 2018, President Trump approved tariffs on washing machines and solar panels. The first 1.2 million washing machine units imported will be subject to a 20 percent tariff, and all subsequent imports subject to a 50 percent tariff.[3] In 2017, the United States imported just over 2.7 million washing machines valued at $402 million; assuming these levels remain the same, the tariff would amount to a $0.15 billion tax increase.[4]

Steel and Aluminum

In March 2018, President Trump announced the administration would impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.[5] If 2018 imports equal 2017 levels these tariffs could cost U.S. firms nearly $9 billion. For example, the value of imported steel totaled just over $29 billion in 2017. If the 25 percent tariff were levied on the same level of imported steel, the tax would total roughly $7.3 billion. Similarly, if a 10 percent tariff were applied to the $16.8 billion worth of aluminum imported in 2017, the tax would total nearly $1.7 billion.

In August of 2018, President Trump called for the tariffs applying to steel and aluminum imports from Turkey to be doubled to 50 percent and 20 percent, respectively.[6] In 2017, the United States imported $1.3 billion worth of steel and $0.1 billion worth of aluminum from Turkey;[7]doubling the tariffs amounts to a tax increase of roughly $0.335 billion on top of current tariffs.

Chinese Products

After tit-for-tat threats between China and the United States regarding tariffs and trade practices, President Trump settled on enacting a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. The first phase of the tariffs began July 6 on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, and the remaining $16 billion went into effect August 23.[8] These tariffs amount to a $12.5 billion tax increase.

The president has announced the administration plans to move forward with a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of goods from China.[9] This amounts to a $20 billion tax increase.

Model Results

According to the Tax Foundation model, the tariffs enacted so far by the Trump administration would reduce long-run GDP by 0.12% ($30.4 billion) and wages by 0.08 percent and eliminate 94,303 full-time equivalent jobs.

Table 1. Impact of Trump Administration Enacted Tariffs
Tariff Revenue (Billions of 2018 Dollars) $41.95
Long-run GDP -0.12%
GDP (Billions of 2018 Dollars) -$30.43
Wages -0.08%
FTE Jobs -94,303

Tariffs Threatened by the United States

The Trump administration is currently investigating tariffs on imported automobiles and parts, as well as additional tariffs on Chinese products. We estimate that these threatened tariffs would amount to a tax increase of roughly $130 billion.

Automobiles and Parts

In May, President Trump asked for tariffs of 25 percent on automobile imports, potentially including cars, trucks, and vehicle parts.[10] In 2017, the United States imported nearly $292.5 billion worth of vehicles for consumption, while paying about $3.4 billion in duties on those imports.[11] If we assume that import levels will remain the same and that the proposed tariff would apply to all goods in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule under the vehicle chapter (Chapter 87), in addition to the tariffs that are already levied, the new tariff would amount to a roughly $73.13 billion tax increase. It is likely that some vehicles or parts in Chapter 87 could be excluded from the tariff, while parts that may be listed in other chapters could be included, so the exact amount of the tax increase could be different.

More recently, the Trump administration has mentioned the possibility of singling out auto imports from Canada for tariffs.[12] In 2017, the U.S. imported $55.6 billion of Chapter 87 goods from Canada, or about 19 percent of the value of imports for consumption under the vehicle chapter.[13] Placing a 25 percent tariff on Chapter 87 auto imports from Canada alone would amount to a $13.9 billion tax. [14]

Chinese Products

The president has threatened to increase the 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of imports to a 25 percent tariff beginning in 2019, and impose an additional 10 percent tariff on the remaining $267 billion worth of imports from China if China retaliates.[15]

Model Results

If the Trump administration enacts additional tariffs on automobiles and parts as well as additional Chinese tariffs, the Tax Foundation model estimates that GDP would fall by an additional 0.38 percent ($94.4 billion), resulting in 0.24 percent lower wages and 292,648 fewer full-time equivalent jobs.

Table 2. Impact of Trump Administration Threatened Tariffs
Tariff Revenue (Billions of 2018 Dollars) $129.83
Long-run GDP -0.38%
GDP (Billions of 2018 Dollars) -$94.38
Wages -0.24%
FTE Jobs -292,648

Retaliatory Tariffs Enacted and Threatened

Several countries have announced plans to impose tariffs in response to the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. The tariffs target American products such as denim, bourbon, whiskey, and agricultural commodities, for an estimated total tax of $32.8 billion. More countries are considering imposing retaliatory tariffs on the United States, but have not announced details; this includes Japan.[17]

China

In response to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, China announced tariffs on about $3 billion worth of American products, including a 15 percent tariff on 120 products, such as wine, nuts, and steel pipes, and a 25 percent tariff on 8 other products such as recycled aluminum and pork.[18] And in response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports, China responded in kind.

After President Trump ordered his administration to increase the proposed threat of 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion to 25 percent, China announced it would place tariffs on an additional $60 billion worth of U.S. goods at a rate of up to 25 percent.[19]

Mexico

In response to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, Mexico announced a tariff of 25 percent on products like cheese, steel, and Tennessee whiskey, and a 20 percent tariff on goods like pork, apples, and potatoes. The value of imports subject to these tariffs is $3 billion.[20]

Canada

Canada published two tables of goods to be subject to a 25 percent tariff and 10 percent tariff, representing the value of Canadian goods subject to the steel and aluminum tariffs, or about $12.8 billion.[21]

European Union

The European Union plans to place a 25 percent tariff on about 200 American products, including denim, bourbon, motorcycles, and peanut butter.[22] The total value of the goods subject to the tariffs is $3.3 billion.

India

India plans to increase its tariffs on 30 U.S. products in order to raise $241 million in revenue.[23] The increased tariffs will target almonds, walnuts, apples, and some chemical and metal products.

Turkey

Turkey announced its decision to begin implementing tariffs on U.S. goods on June 21, 2018. The tariffs would cover goods such as coal, paper, walnuts and almonds, tobacco, whiskey, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery equipment, and petrochemical products. The burden of the tariffs will be commensurate to the U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, or about $266.5 million.[24]

Turkey has announced plans to double tariffs on 22 U.S. products including cars, alcohol, coal, and tobacco.[25] They expect to raise $533 million in additional revenue due to these increased tariffs.[26]

Russia

Russia announced its decision to begin implementing tariffs on U.S. goods such as fiber optics and different types of equipment at rates of 25 to 40 percent.[27] The tariffs are intended to raise $87.6 million, and Russia has warned it could impose further tariffs, up to $537.6 million, commensurate to the effect on Russia of U.S.-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Model Results

If these foreign jurisdictions enacted the tariffs that they announced, the Tax Foundation model estimates that U.S. GDP would fall another 0.09 percent ($23.5 billion) and cost an additional 72,864 full-time equivalent jobs.

It is important to note, however, that unlike the tariffs that the United States could enact, which would raise some federal revenue, tariffs enacted by foreign jurisdictions would raise no revenue, but result in lower U.S. output.

Table 3. Impact of Retaliatory Tariffs
Tariff Revenue (Billions of 2018 Dollars) $0
Long-run GDP -0.09%
GDP (Billions of 2018 Dollars) -$23.51
Wages -0.06%
FTE Jobs -72,864

Total Impact of Enacted and Announced Tariffs

If all tariffs announced thus far were fully enacted by the United States and foreign jurisdictions, U.S. GDP would fall by 0.59 percent ($148.33 billion) in the long run, effectively offsetting one-third of the long-run impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Wages would fall by 0.38 percent and employment would fall by 459,816.

The 0.59 percent reduction in long-run GDP is one-third the total long-run impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which we estimated to raise GDP by 1.7 percent in the long run.

Table 4. Total Impact of Enacted and Announced Tariffs
Tariff Revenue (Billions of 2018 Dollars) $171.77
Long-run GDP -0.59%
GDP (Billions of 2018 Dollars) -$148.33
Wages -0.38%
FTE Jobs -459,816

 Conclusion

If additional tariffs and in-kind retaliatory actions continue to be taken, the harm caused to U.S. businesses and consumers would increase. The Trump administration would do well to not follow a path of imposing tariffs that could dampen the U.S. economic outlook.

 Recent Updates

09/18/2018 update: We’ve updated our estimate to include the recently announced 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China, shown in Table 1. We also updated our estimate to reflect the two additional threats of tariffs on imports from China, shown in Table 2: increasing the recently announced 10 percent tariff on $200 billion to 25 percent, and imposing an additional 10 percent tariff on the remaining $267 billion worth of imports from China.

08/29/2018 update: We separated our automobile tariff estimate to show auto imports from Canada. We also made slight adjustments to our estimates to correct for rounding.

08/16/2018 update: President Trump ordered a doubling of the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey. Turkey responded by doubling its tariffs on 22 U.S. products.

08/08/2018 update:The Trump administration in June increased the amount of Chinese imports under consideration for further tariffs. The president has said the administration would impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods if China further retaliates, and if China retaliates against the 10 percent tariff on $200 billion, the administration would extend that tariff to another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. This would amount to a $40 billion tax increase and bring the total of Chinese goods subject to U.S. import duties to $450 billion.[13]

On Thursday, July 5, President Trump again threatened additional tariffs on Chinese imports if China further retaliates to U.S. tariffs. However, this time, the threats increased from additional levies on $200 billion and another $200 billion of Chinese goods to $200 billion and $300 billion of Chinese goods. This would be a $10 billion tax increase above what was previously threatened.[14]

On Friday, July 20, President Trump confirmed plans that were hinted at on July 5 to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports, which would be approximately $500 billion worth of goods.[15] This has been modeled as a 10 percent tariff on $500 billion worth of imports, which amounts to a $50 billion tax increase.

On August 1, President Trump ordered administration officials to consider increasing the proposed 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports to a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports.[16] Increasing the rate from 10 percent, as currently planned, to 25 percent, would be a $30 billion tax increase.

President Trump announced on August 7 that the administration is prepared to impose further tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of imports from China.[30] If enacted at a 10 percent rate, this would be a $26.7 billion tax increase on American consumers.

Here’s a quick recap of all the enacted and threated tariffs on Chinese imports as of August 8, 2018. The U.S. has imposed a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of products, enacted in two phases. The U.S. has threatened a now 25 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion. The president has also repeatedly threatened a third round of tariffs on China, this at 10 percent on $200 billion-$300 billion, effectively taxing Americans on all goods that they purchase from China. In total, the enacted tariffs amount to a $12.5 billion tax increase, while the threatened tariffs would amount to another $80 billion tax increase if all were imposed.

07/20/2018 update: On July 20, President Trump reaffirmed plans to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports (approximately $500 billion). Our estimate of total enacted and announced tariffs already includes this latest announcement. >

07/13/2018 update: Russia will begin placing tariffs on U.S. goods worth about $87.6 million. We also made slight adjustments to our estimates to correct for rounding.

07/06/2018 update: President Trump announced that the U.S. is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports, and an additional $300 billion after that—an increase of $100 billion from previous threats.

6/28/2018 update: Turkey will begin placing tariffs on U.S. goods worth about $266.5 million.

 

Notes:


[1] L. Alan Winters, “Trade Liberalisation and Economic Performance: An Overview,” The Economic Journal 114, no. 493 (February 2004).

[2] Erica York, “Lessons from the 2002 Bush Steel Tariffs,” Tax Foundation, March 12, 2018, https://taxfoundation.org/lessons-2002-bush-steel-tariffs/.

[3] Erica York, “President Trump Approves Tariffs on Washing Machines and Solar Cells,” Tax Foundation, Jan. 30, 2018, https://taxfoundation.org/trump-tariffs-washing-machines-solar-cells/.

[4] United States International Trade Commission, “Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb,” https://dataweb.usitc.gov/. Note we did not model the effects of tariffs on solar panels or washer parts.

[5] Scott A. Hodge, “New Tariff Plan Could Cost States $9 Billion,” Tax Foundation, March 6, 2018, https://taxfoundation.org/new-tariffs-could-cost-states-9-billion/.

[6] Terrence Dopp, “Trump Targets a Doubling of Turkey Metals Tariffs as Ties Worsen,” Bloomberg, Aug. 10, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-10/trump-authorizes-doubling-of-tariffs-on-turkey-s-steel-aluminum/.

[7] Chad P. Bown, “Trump’s Long-awaited Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Are Just the Beginning,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 26, 2018, https://piie.com/blogs/trade-investment-policy-watch/trumps-long-awaited-steel-and-aluminum-tariffs-are-just/.

[8] Bill Chappell, “Trump Hits China With Tariffs On $50 Billion Of Goods; China Says It Will Retaliate,” NPR, June 15, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/620259820/trump-levies-50-billion-in-tariffs-as-china-says-it-will-retaliate.

[9] “Statement By U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Section 301 Action,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, July 2018, https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/july/statement-us-trade-representative.

[10] William Mauldin, Timothy Puko, and Kate O’Keeffe, “Trump Administration Looks Into New Tariffs on Imported Vehicles,” The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-weighs-new-tariffs-on-imported-vehicles-1527106235?mod=article_inline&mod=article_inline.

[11] United States International Trade Commission, “Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb.”

[12] Liz Moyer, “White House advisor Kudlow says Canada could face auto tariffs if it doesn’t agree to ‘fair deal’,” CNBC, Aug. 27, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/27/kudlow-on-canada-if-we-cant-reach-a-fair-deal-we-might-have-to-resort-to-auto-tariffs.html.

[13] United States International Trade Commission, “Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb.”

[14] David Lawder and Michael Martina, “White House piles pressure on China after Trump tariff threat,” Reuters, June 18, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-trump/trump-threatens-to-hit-china-with-new-tariffs-on-200-billion-in-goods-idUSKBN1JE2ZQ.

[15] Statement from the President, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-from-the-president-4/.

[15] Associated Press, “China retaliates after U.S. tariff hike officially takes effect,” NBC News, July 6, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-says-it-must-counterattack-after-u-s-tariff-hike-n889221.

[16] Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher, “Chinese Goods May Face 25% Tariffs, Not 10%, as Trump’s Anger Grows,” The New York Times, Aug. 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/business/china-tariffs-trump.html.

[17] Jeff Cox, “Trump says he’s ‘ready’ to put tariffs on all $505 billion of Chinese goods imported to the US,” CNBC, July 20, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/19/trump-says-hes-ready-to-put-tariffs-on-all-505-billion-of-chinese-.html

[18] Bob Bryan, “THE BIG ONE: Trump is set to slam China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods, taking the trade war to the next levels,” Business Insider, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-china-trade-war-tariff-chinese-goods-2018-9.

[19] Motoko Rich, “Now Even Japan Is Pushing Back Against Trump’s Tariffs,” The New York Times, May 18, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/world/asia/japan-trump-tariffs-wto-.html.

[20] Chris Buckley, “China Slaps Tariffs on 128 U.S. Products, Including Wine, Pork and Pipes,” The New York Times, April 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/01/world/asia/china-tariffs-united-states.html.

[21] Keith Bradsher and Cao Li, “China Threatens New Tariffs on $60 Billion of U.S. Goods,” The New York Times, Aug. 3, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/business/china-us-trade-tariffs.html.

[22] Chris Isidore, “Mexico imposes tariffs on $3 billion worth of US exports,” CNNMoney, June 6, 2018, http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/06/news/economy/mexico-us-tariffs-retaliation/index.html.

[23] Department of Finance Canada, “Notice of intent to impose countermeasures action against the United States in response to tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products,” May 31, 2018, https://www.fin.gc.ca/activty/consult/cacsap-cmpcaa-eng.asp.

[24] Alanna Petroff, “Here’s how Europe is punishing the US for steel tariffs,” CNNMoney, June 1, 2018, http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/01/news/economy/trade-war-tariffs-eu-canada-mexico-response/index.html?iid=EL.

[25] Rishi Iyengar, “India moves ahead with tariffs on US goods,” CNNMoney, June 18, 2018, http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/17/news/economy/india-us-tariffs-steel-aluminum-wto/index.html.

[26] Reuters staff, “Turkey to start implementing retaliatory tariffs against United States,” Reuters, June 21, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-turkey/turkey-to-start-implementing-retaliatory-tariffs-against-united-states-idUSKBN1JH0DY.

[27] Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk, “Turkey doubles tariffs on some U.S. imports; lira rallies,” Reuters, Aug. 15, 2018,  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-usa-tariffs/turkey-raises-tariffs-on-some-u-s-imports-including-cars-alcohol-official-gazette-idUSKBN1L00BI.

[28] World Bulletin/News Desk, “Turkey vows to protect firms from ‘unfair’ US treatment,” World Bulletin, Aug. 15, 2018, http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/205007/turkey-vows-to-protect-firms-from-unfair-us-treatment.

[29] Darya Korsunskaya and Andrey Ostroukh, “Russia hikes duties on U.S. imports, pledges more retaliation,” Reuters, July 6, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-economy-duties/russia-raises-duties-on-u-s-goods-in-response-to-trade-restrictions-idUSKBN1JW1SE.

[30] Bob Bryan, “THE BIG ONE: Trump is set to slam China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods, taking the trade war to the next levels,” Business Insider, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-china-trade-war-tariff-chinese-goods-2018-9.

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