WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) detailed the effects of the trade war with China during 2018 and 2019 in a new report.
The agency explained that in 2018, the USDA imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from major trading partners and other broad tariffs on Chinese imports. After that policy was put into place, six countries – Canada, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and Turkey – responded with retaliatory tariffs on a range of US exports, including agricultural and food products.
ERS estimated that during the two years of tariffs, $27 billion in US agricultural exports were lost.
“Across retaliatory partners, China accounted for approximately 95% of the losses ($25.7 billion), followed by the EU ($0.6 billion), and Mexico ($0.5 billion), with Canada, Turkey and India having smaller shares,” the report stated.
American agriculture products that were targeted for retaliatory tariffs were valued at $30.4 billion in 2017 with individual product lines seeing tariff increases from 2% to 140%.
Pork was the hardest hit meat commodity during the two-year period according to the ERS. The report said pork accounted for 5% of the overall loss at $646 million.
Retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and China for pork producers ranged from 10% to 30% during the studied time period. ERS estimated that US pork exports to China decreased by 19% in volume and 23% in value during the time of retaliatory actions. In Mexico, volume decreased by 13% and value by 21%.
“Compared with ex-ante simulations, changes in Mexican imports of US pork products tended to be smaller due to effects of China’s African swine fever outbreak and Mexico’s lower-price sensitivity to US fresh/chilled and variety meats,” the report added.
Other commodities that were hit particularly hard included soybeans which made up 71% of the total trade loss at $9.4 billion in annualized losses and sorghum that accounted for 6% of the annualized losses or $854 million.
ERS explained that export and trade export to China rebounded in 2020 after Phase One of the US-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. However, the US market share remained below pre-retaliatory levels a year later.