WASHINGTON - The costs seem to be mounting in the U.S. from President Donald Trump's tit-for-tat trade tariff war with China, both for farmers whose sales of crops to China have been cut and U.S. consumers paying higher prices for imported Chinese products.
The government said Wednesday that to date it has paid out more than $8.5 billion to American farmers to offset their loss of sales to China and other trading partners because of foreign tariffs imposed by Beijing and other governments.
Trump last year pledged up to $12 billion in aid to farmers - chiefly soybean, wheat and corn growers, and those who raise pigs. Trump says he could ask Congress for another $15 billion if U.S. farmers continue to be hurt by China's tariffs of as much as 25% on U.S. agricultural imports.
The U.S. had been shipping $12 billion worth of soybeans a year to China, but Beijing's imposition of the tariff severely cut down on the U.S. exports as China bought the beans from other countries.
Trump said Tuesday on Twitter, 'Our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now. Hopefully China will do us the honor of continuing to buy our great farm product, the best, but if not your Country will be making up the difference based on a very high China buy. This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us. The Farmers have been 'forgotten' for many years. Their time is now!'
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged to a television interviewer last weekend that 'to some extent' U.S. consumers will bear the brunt of higher costs on Chinese goods after Trump's tariffs have been levied on the imported goods.
Trade Partnership Worldwide, a Washington economic consulting firm, estimates in a new study the typical American family of four people would pay $2,300 more annually for goods and services if Trump imposes a 25% tariff on all Chinese imports, as he says he is considering.
Such higher tariffs would hit an array of Chinese-produced consumer goods - clothing, children's toys, sports equipment, shoes and consumer electronics - that are widely bought by Americans.
If that does not happen, but the existing U.S. tariffs remain in place, the research group says the average U.S. family would pay $770 in higher costs each year.
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The U.S. imported almost $540 billion in Chinese goods in 2018, while the U.S. exported $120 billion, a trade imbalance that Trump is seeking to even out with imposition of the tariffs. The U.S. exported almost $59 billion in services to China, while importing only $18 billion, but services are not directly affected by tariffs.