Monday, May 13, 2019

The Impact of Trump's China Sanctions

On Friday the United States more than doubled the trade tariffs it applies to Chinese goods. American companies buying goods from China will now have to pay a 25% tariff instead of the previous 10%. A cost they will presumably pass on to consumers. Donald Trump's own economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said that 'both sides will suffer' from this new trade dispute.

Axios has released an interactive map which visualizes the concentration of tariff-affected industries in each county compared to the national average. The darker the color on the Trump's Trade War map then the higher the concentration of affected industries in the county. The green and pink colors show whether the county was won by Trump or Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. If you hover over a county on the map you can see how many industries are affected in the area and which sector those industries are in.

'Concentration' relates to the number of people employed in an industry as compared to the national average. If the map says that an industry is 2x more concentrated in a selected county then that means the industry has two times the share of employment in the local area than the national average. For example Las Vegas would have a larger concentration of workers in the leisure industry than the national average.

China says that it will retaliate against America's new tariffs but as yet has not confirmed how. Last year the Brookings Institute did map out the counties with the highest share of workers in industries affected by China's 2018 retaliatory tariffs on 128 American products. The Brookings' map in How China’s proposed tariffs could affect U.S. workers and industries shows that many of the counties affected by American tariffs on China appear to be the very same counties most affected by China's tariffs against American goods.

After the imposition of tariffs on American goods in 2018 many commentators, including Donald Trump himself, wondered if China had deliberately targeted Trump voters. The New York Times in Firing Back at Trump in the Trade War placed a map of where the tariffs most affect American voters side-by-side with a map of where voters backed Trump. There does appear to be a large similarity between the two maps.

Axios's new map, visualizing the counties affected by Trump's tariffs against China, also seems to closely resemble a map of Trump voters. If Donald Trump was right to wonder if Chinese tariffs were deliberately designed to hurt Trump voters perhaps we should also ask if Trump's tariffs on China are also deliberately designed to punish his base. 

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