China trade war cost tops $40 billion a year in lost U.S. exports

Chinese retaliation against President Trump’s tariffs is hitting U.S. exporters harder than their Chinese counterparts and costing the U.S. the equivalent of about $40 billion a year in lost exports, according to a new study that highlights the mounting costs to the U.S. economy of the trade war against China.

U.S. tariffs imposed last year on some $250 billion in imports from China slowed shipments of the targeted products to U.S. shores, according to findings from the Institute of International Finance published earlier this year. Now, a new IIF study of China’s retaliation has found that countertariffs had a far more severe impact on U.S. exports, leading to a collapse in many of the roughly 900 categories of targeted American products.

That slump came at a real cost to the U.S. economy. In calculations done for Bloomberg, the IIF economists found that between July and November of last year, the value of lost exports topped $17 billion, according to Sergi Lanau, the IIF’s deputy chief economist. That’s an annualized hit of about $40 billion, or almost a third of the record $130 billion the U.S. exported to China in 2017.

Maine has seen the most dramatic impact from tariffs on its export of live lobster to China. Before the tariffs were imposed last summer, U.S. lobster exports were on pace to double from 2017’s $128.5 million.

But through November, U.S. exports of live lobster totaled about $137 million, slightly ahead of 2017’s annual value. About 80 percent of all U.S. lobster shipped to China is caught by Maine lobstermen.

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