As a result of new and increased duties imposed by the Trump administration, tariff payments were up 104 percent from the same month a year ago, despite import values rising only 13 percent.
President Trump has made tariffs a cornerstone of his international trade policy, using them as leverage in negotiating new and updated agreements in an attempt to bring back manufacturing jobs lost to offshoring and balance the trade deficit. So far in 2018, his administration has imposed broad global tariffs on washing machines, solar panels, steel and aluminum, as well as more targeted duties on more than $250 billion in annual imports of Chinese goods.
According to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, however, the October figures indicated the tariffs have “failed to achieve any of [their] stated goals and has, in fact, helped to grow the trade deficit that the administration has prioritized addressing,” as import levels remain relatively unchanged while exports of products targeted by retaliatory tariffs are declining.
The overall U.S. trade deficit expanded another 1.7 percent to $55.5 billion in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, as imports ticked up 0.2 percent and exports slid 0.1 percent.
Tariffs Hurt the Heartland says U.S. exports subject to retaliation fell 37 percent year-over-year in October, while U.S. imports subject to new tariffs declined just 0.6 percent. Zeroing in on the U.S.-China trade skirmish, U.S. exports subject to retaliation from Beijing plummeted 42 percent for the month and imports of goods subject to increased duties actually increased 2 percent compared with October 2017.
“In other words, U.S. businesses are still importing goods, they are just being taxed more, while exports are falling on those products that have been targeted by retaliatory tariffs,” the group said.
Trump has claimed on numerous occasions that tariffs enrich the United States at the expense of countries of export, but Charles Boustany, a spokesman for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland and former congressman, says this simply isn’t true.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Boustany. “Americans are paying these taxes and they’re paying more than ever before.
“These tariffs are not making our country wealthier, they are doing the exact opposite,” he added. “This data shows that tariffs have been an unmitigated failure in achieving any of the administration’s goals. All that’s happening is businesses and consumers are paying more, American exports subject to retaliation are rapidly declining and the deficit the administration cares so much about is ballooning.”