Year End Trade Data Shows Staggering Rise in Tariffs Being Paid by the American People

When compared to 2017 levels, American businesses and consumers have paid nearly $13 billion more because of tariffs the administration has put in place

New data released on same day as 10-year deficit high shows that trade war is failing by every measure

(WASHINGTON) – Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a nationwide campaign against recent tariffs on American businesses, farmers and consumers, today released year-end 2018 data showing that Americans paid $12.8 billion in additional tariffs last year due to tariff actions taken by the administration. The data, compiled by Trade Partnership, is the first look at the overall damage done in 2018 by the trade war and the sharp rise in tariffs Americans are paying. The data release comes on the same day that the 2018 trade deficit reached a 10-year high of $621 billion. Reducing the trade deficit has been used by the current administration as justification for recent tariffs. 

“This data shows the trade war has done lasting damage to the American economy,” said Tariffs Hurt the Heartland spokesman and former Congressman Charles Boustany. “Regardless of what comes of negotiations, punishing ourselves by taxing our own businesses and consumers with tariffs has been a clear mistake. The $12.8 billion paid in tariffs is money out of Americans’ pockets, and when it’s combined with billions in exports lost to retaliation and billions more that was never invested because of business uncertainty, the staggering cost of the trade war begins to sink in. It’s encouraging that the administration is listening to the public outcry of American manufacturers, farmers, retailers, and consumers and making progress to end the trade war. These taxes must end now.”

The data released today also shows that U.S. export growth sank to new lows in 2018 because of retaliatory tariffs. In December, exports targeted by retaliations fell by 40 percent following two previous months with declines of 37 percent each in October and November. 

The December 2018 data shows that:

ADDED TARIFFS: Trump administration tariffs cost American companies an extra $3.1 billion in December. Products subject the Trump administration actions currently in place faced $3.4 billion in tariffs in December, compared to just $379 million in December 2017. Imports in December were slightly higher than the previous year despite the high tariffs.  

PLUMMETING EXPORTS: The December 2018 data also shows that retaliatory tariffs, have had a significant negative impact on US exports. In December 2018, US exports of products subject to retaliatory tariffs declined by $4.2 billion, or 40 percent, from the previous year. Over the course of 2018 exports declined by $15.7 billion, or 14 percent. US exports of products not subject to retaliation increased by $119.2 billion, or 10 percent.

Other key takeaways from the December data:

  • China Section 301 tariffs cost American companies about $2.9 billion in December, compared to just $365 million in December 2017.
  • Section 232 steel tariffs alone have cost American companies $3.1 billion, including $364 million in December.
  • Aluminum products subject to the Section 232 remedies faced $124 million in tariffs in December, compared to just $10 million in December 2017. The large increase in tariffs came despite a 12 percent decrease in the value of imports. 
  • US export growth has continued to fall since countries started applying retaliatory tariffs on US exports, hitting their lowest level of 2018 in December. In December 2018, exports in general declined from their December 2017 levels.
  • Exports of products not subject to retaliatory tariffs have continued to grow, so unrelated trends (such as a strong dollar) are unlikely to explain declines for products subject to retaliation.
  • Exports of products subject to 232 steel/aluminum retaliation tariffs continue to decline by double-digit rates. In December, US exports of products subject to Section 232 retaliatory tariffs declined by about $610 million, or 24 percent, from the previous year. Section 232 retaliatory tariffs raised the costs of US December exports by approximately $352 million.
  • Exports to China for products subject to Section 301 retaliation tariffs remain way down. In December, US exports of products subject to Section 301 retaliatory tariffs declined by $3.6 billion, or 45 percent, from the previous year. Section 301 retaliatory tariffs raised the costs of US October exports to China by over $500 million.

The Tariff Tracker: The data released today is part of a monthly Tariff Tracker that Tariffs Hurt the Heartland has launched in conjunction with The Trade Partnership, who compiles monthly data released by the U.S. government. The monthly import data is calculated using data from the Census Bureau. The monthly export data is compiled using data from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As part of the Tariff Tracker project, Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is releasing data on how individual states have been impacted by increased import tariffs and declining exports. That data will be released in individual letters to Governors in all 50 states in the coming weeks.