Shipping containers crowd docks near cranes at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. Getty Images/David McNew

U.S. stands to lose a lot in trade wars

No industry is immune to feeling the hurt of retaliatory tariffs.

The stakes are high, and the projections keep growing.

Once President Trump announced tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel, impacted countries vowed, and have now enacted, retaliatory tariffs of their own on U.S. products. Immediately after Trump threatened the tariffs, the ag industry led the charge to have the administration rethink that decision, knowing full well that agriculture, and its products, is usually the easy target for retaliatory tariffs. Right on cue, that is exactly what has happened.

An estimate of an $18 per hog loss has been put on the back of the U.S. pork producers as a result of the tariffs, but the hurt goes beyond the pork sector. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the “Tariffs imposed by the United States are nothing more than a tax increase on American consumers and businesses — including manufacturers, farmers and technology companies— who will all pay more for commonly used products and materials. Retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports will make American-made goods more expensive, resulting in lost sales and ultimately lost jobs here at home.”

The Chamber has calculated the impact the emerging trade war has on each state’s economy, each one broken down by the potential dollar amount impact to Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union, as well as the top three hardest hit products for each state. For example, it is estimated that $977 million of Iowa exports are threatened in the trade war, with $660 million in exports to China. Iowa is king in the U.S. pork industry, and pork products from the state stand to be the hardest hit in exports to Mexico, with $112 million in collective exported pork products. Exports of Iowa pork offal to China also stand to be impacted as $33 million worth are exported annually.

Obviously, everyone gets riled up when their industry is the one taking the brunt in any trade issue, so we all become possessive in our thoughts, but agriculture and the pork industry are not the only ones having “their ox gored.”

Every industry and every product produced in America that is exported stands to lose in the trade war. Who would have thought that California annually exports $3.3 million worth of ball point pens and felt-tipped pens and markers to Canada? Whoever produces the red ink for these pens and markers may be to the only ones in the black when all this shakes out.

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