Trump reportedly believes economically illiterate claim that China 'pays' for trade war tariffs 'like theology'

  • President Donald Trump genuinely believes that China is singlehandedly paying the price of tariffs in the two countries’ trade war, according to a report from Axios, which cited presidential aides.
  • The reality is that both the US and China suffer from the trade war, in which both sides have imposed tariffs on each other’s imports.
  • And in the US, Trump’s core base of support – which consists of blue-collar workers and farmers – is hardest hit by China’s tariffs.
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President Donald Trump is convinced that China alone is footing the bill for the tariffs imposed by both sides in the ongoing US-China trade war, Axios reported his aides as saying.

The president believes that China pays the tariffs, rather than American importers and consumers, Axios’ Jonathan Swan on Tuesday cited several current and former administration officials as saying.

Trump’s belief in imposing tariffs to punish China economically is also “like theology,” and there isn’t much point in trying to persuade him otherwise, Swan cited a former aide as saying.

However, Trump’s theory is economically unsound. The reality is that both the US and China suffer the consequences of the trade war. And in the US, Trump’s core base of supporters could be the hardest hit.

Both sides have imposed steep new tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods on each other over the past few days alone.

  • Last Friday, the White House increased tariffs on $US200 billion worth of imports from China, to 25% from 10%. The average American consumer will likely have to spend $US800 extra a year on everyday goods as a result of this action, according to the Trade Partnership consultancy firm.
  • On Monday, China announced it would raise duties on $US60 billion worth of American goods from June 1, resulting in duties of 5% to 25%.
  • Later Monday, the US proposed new tariffs of up to 25% on about $US300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

If the Trump administration imposes the newly-proposed tariffs – thereby slapping taxes on $US500 billion worth of Chinese goods – almost all Chinese imports into the US would be taxed. The US imported $US540 billion worth of goods from China in 2018,according to Census Bureau data.

A study published in March by a group of experts, including the World Bank’s chief economist, already found that US companies raised prices to offset the costs of tariffs.

Read more:
Beijing calls for a ‘people’s war’ against the US as Trump threatens tariffs on another $US300 billion of Chinese goods in all-out trade battle

Soybean farmer trump trade fightScott Olson/Getty ImagesUS farmer Greg Lovins checks the quality of a load of soybeans. US farmers have been hard hit by Trump’s trade war.

Trump’s core base could be the hardest hit

The reality is that Trump’s core base of supporters – which include farmers and blue-collar workers – would be hardest hit by the trade war.

China’s latest round of proposed tariffs largely targets agricultural goods including meat, and animal and vegetable fats. Beijing already has a 25% tariff on about $US50 billion other American products, which are also mostly agricultural exports.

American farmers say they are already feeling the trade war’s side effects, with many already reporting losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

Yet Trump still insisted on Tuesday that “our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries” of the trade war, claiming that “money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us.”

Read more:
Trump’s own economics adviser just shot down his misleading claim that US consumers won’t pay for the tariffs in the China trade war

The latest moves in the trade war have also prompted a worldwide market sell-off, resulting in Wall Street experiencing its worst week of 2019 last week, according to the Financial Times.

Axios on Tuesday cited a senior administration official as saying that the trade war would likely continue into next year.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his “respect and friendship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping was “unlimited” but that “this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn’t make any sense.”

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