President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on more than $350 billion worth of goods imported from China since March 2018, with another $200 billion set to be subject to tariffs starting on December 15. Trump has repeatedly claimed in speeches and on Twitter that "Tariffs are NOW being paid to the United States by China."
In fact, as a stunning new report shows, the tariffs are actually being paid by United States businesses and consumers, not by China. And, they are costing Americans billions.
According to data released by the U.S. Commerce and Agriculture departments that was analyzed in the report by free-trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Americans shelled out a record $7.1 billion in tariff payments in September alone.
That figure was up by 59 percent compared to September 2018 and was $600 million more than Americans paid in August of this year.
The reason for the massive increases in tariff cash coming out of American pockets is the tariffs imposed by Trump in his ongoing trade war with China, according to the report. Of that $7.1 billion paid in September, $4.1 billion — about 58 percent — was the direct result of new tariffs imposed by Trump.
The Trump tariffs also hit Americans in September 2018. But the $1.4 billion paid in that month is only about one-third of what U.S. businesses and consumers paid this September, according to the report.
Since February 2018, when Trump announced the start of his trade war, Americans have paid more than $38 billion in tariffs.
"JP Morgan projects tariffs will cost American households up to $1,000 per year, while Moody's Analytics estimates the trade war has reduced U.S. employment by 300,000," the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland report states.
China has retaliated in Trump's trade war by imposing its own stiff tariffs on American exports, mostly on agricultural exports. American farmers have been hit especially hard by Trump's trade war as a result. According to the report, due to the heavy Chinese retaliatory tariffs, U.S. exports subject to those tariffs have dropped 30 percent since Trump began his trade war.
Tariffs Hurt the Heartland used publicly available data to compile its figure of $7.1 billion in tariffs paid by Americans in September. The report states that it relied on data from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Trump administration reported a slightly lower figure of $6.8 billion in tariffs collected by U.S. Customs officials and reported to the treasury, according to a report by Business Insider.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to sign a "Phase One" trade agreement in December that will lift some of the heavy tariffs in exchange for a promise by China to sharply increase purchases of American agricultural exports. But Brian Kuehl, a top official of agricultural advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade, said that "it's going to be tough to dig out" of the "hole" that's been dug by Trump's trade war.
"Two years of economic pain won't be undone by one-time ag purchases or partial deals," Tariffs Hurt the Heartland quotes Kuehl as saying. "American farmers are the 'show me' type and they are still waiting to see a deal that actually ends the economic pain they are feeling."