US paid record $7.1 billion in tariffs in September: analysis

U.S. consumers and businesses paid a record $7.1 billion in tariffs in September due largely to President Trump’s trade war with China, according to an analysis of federal data released Wednesday.

Roughly $4.1 billion of the $7.1 billion in import taxes paid by Americans in September were levied through tariffs Trump imposed on Chinese goods since 2018. The total amount in tariffs paid by Americans has increased 59 percent since September 2018 and rose $600 million since August 2019, according to the analysis.

The analysis of Commerce and Agriculture Department data was commissioned and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a coalition of trade groups opposed to Trump’s import taxes. 

{mosads}Since March 2018, Trump has imposed tariffs on more than $350 billion in imports from China. Another round of tariffs on close to $200 billion in Chinese goods is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15, which would subject almost all Chinese imports to additional tariffs.

U.S. and Chinese officials are nearing a preliminary trade deal that would grant China relief from some tariffs in exchange for drastically increasing purchases of American farm exports. 

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were expected to sign the so-called phase one trade deal at a now-canceled summit of Pacific nations in Chile later this month. Reuters reported Wednesday that the signing may be delayed until December as Trump and Xi mull new locations.

“Negotiations are continuing and progress is being made on the text of the phase-one agreement,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere in a statement to The Hill. “We will let you know when we have an announcement on a signing location.”

The U.S. has collected tariffs on foreign goods throughout its history, and import taxes were once a primary source of federal revenue. But after decades of trade liberalization, Trump’s imposition of steep tariffs on Chinese goods have vastly increased the amount in import taxes paid by U.S. consumers and firms.

Trump insists that China has effectively paid the cost of U.S. tariffs on its goods through currency devaluation and firms being forced to lower their prices. While the president argues that the U.S. economy has not been harmed by tariffs, manufacturers and farmers have been slammed with higher costs and lower global demand.

The U.S. manufacturing sector has suffered through a recession for most 2019, due largely to the rising costs of Chinese goods and parts not easily obtainable from other nations. A steep decline in global economic growth has also dampened foreign demand for U.S. goods.

U.S. farmers and ranchers have also lost billions in sales to China after Beijing imposed retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural exports. While the U.S exports to China merely a fraction of the value of goods it imports from the country, China is a crucial market for the ailing American agricultural sector. 

“This data offers concrete proof that tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses, farmers and consumers – not by China,” said Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for Americans for Free Trade, another anti-tariff coalition of trade groups.

Trump has consistently blamed the Federal Reserve for the steep decline in American manufacturing and business investment, insisting that the central bank has hindered the U.S. from its full economic potential. But his administration has also delayed and exempted some goods from tariffs to shield consumers from higher costs driven by his trade war.

Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods have yet to hinder solid consumer spending and an unemployment rate near record lows. But the bulk of pending tariffs on Chinese goods apply to crucial consumer items like clothing, shoes, toys, household products and technology.

Economists say that new consumer-facing tariffs are the biggest threat posed by Trump’s trade policy to the broader economy. 

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