China's Tariff List Advertises Its Trade War Weakness


PREMO Member
Unless Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his advisors are completely incompetent, there’s only one way to interpret Beijing’s list of U.S. products that will be slapped with retaliatory tariffs on June 1 if the trade war with the United States isn’t somehow deescalated pronto: China increasingly realizes that it’s playing a losing hand in the trade war, and its counter-moves have been made mainly for public consumption in China.


Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. These totals are not in billions of dollars, or hundreds of millions of dollars, or—with one exception—even in millions of dollars. They’re in thousands of dollars.

As mentioned by some of the press coverage, there’s evidence that China has concentrated the tariffs in the agriculture sector and the chemicals sector—obviously two very big parts of the American economy. But if you look in detail at Beijing’s tariff list, what’s most striking is how few major U.S. export categories are affected.

For example, take a look at chemicals (and chemical products). Nineteen sub-sectors in this grouping generated at least $100 million in U.S. exports to China last year. Their total sales to the People’s Republic were just under $5.24 billion—about 44 percent of the total $11.80 billion worth of 2018 American chemical and chemicals-related shipments to China. Three types of chemical products will clearly be subjected to tariffs: makeup and skincare preparations, certain kinds of photographic film, and ethylbenzene. Their total exports to China in 2018 fell slightly short of $745 million. That’s only 6.31 percent of all 2018 U.S. exports to China in these sectors, and less than one half of one percent of America’s $159.13 billion in total chemicals and chemicals-related exports last year.

But based on what we know, what’s even more revealing about China’s choices are the U.S.-made products that haven’t made any tariff list. They include civilian aircraft and their engines and parts, which had a 2018 export total of $17.73 billion. They include semiconductors and their components, which last year had China shipments that totaled several billion additional dollars. They include the equipment needed to manufacture and inspect semiconductors and their parts, which racked up at least $850 million in 2018 exports to China; devices for conducting chemical and physical analyses (with $912 million in China exports last year); laser equipment ($304 million), motor vehicles, auto parts, and plastics resins and polymers (which each produced billions in exports to China); and billions of dollars’ worth of other products that the Chinese either can’t (yet) make or can’t make in the amounts that they need—or that consist of goods preferred by Chinese consumers over their Made in China counterparts.


Having a Beer while the world burns!
PREMO Member
Article I read over the weekend was lamenting the impact the tariffs were having on pork exports to china.

So just to help out, verybody buy an extra rack of ribs for the bbq.