Understanding the US China Trade War: Timelines, Statistics, and More

Written By
Julija A.
March 25,2022

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

China is number two and climbing fast. That’s why the US China trade war has America - and the whole world - shaking in its boots.

Economic anxiety is seeping into our daily lives. Small companies can’t run smoothly. Prices are going up. Stocks are shaking. Farm bankruptcies are on the rise.

The effects are everywhere. Around the world, no one can escape them.

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US-China Trade War Timeline

September 21, 2011 The Trump worldview is spelled out in an infamous tweet: “China is neither an ally or a friend — they want to beat us and own our country.” Even before he became president, Donald Trump felt antagonistic toward China and made several statements of disapproval about its policies.
May 26, 2016 The US president communicates with allies and antagonists mostly in tweets. Here’s another: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country and that’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.” The China trade war isn’t even close to starting, but tensions are in the air. The future president is campaigning in Pennsylvania when that tweet hits the internet. People aren’t taking his Twitter feed seriously yet, but they should. The tweet exposes his intentions clearly. It dovetails with what he tells the audience at a rally the same day. He threatens to apply tariffs to Chinese goods under sections 201 and 301 of US trade law.
March 31, 2017 President Trump signs two executive orders: one for strict tariff enforcement in anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade cases, and the other demanding a review of the US trade deficit.
April 7, 2017 A US China trade war is slowly becoming a distinct possibility. President Trump and Xi Jinping meet for the first time at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. They agree to a 100-day plan for trade talks intended to boost US exports and reduce China’s trade surplus.
May 22, 2017 The US and China come to an agreement: China is to give US firms more access to energy, agriculture, and financial markets, and China is now allowed to sell cooked poultry to the US.
August 14, 2017 The two countries fail to take more steps to resolve trade tensions before the expiration of their 100-day trade plan.
November 8-10, 2017 Trump pays a visit to China to attempt more trade discussions. The meeting seems to go well.
January 17, 2018 The president seems to really want a China vs US trade war showdown. He gives an interview to reporters from Reuters, telling them he is planning a “big fine” for China. Analysts conclude he is referring to tariffs, which he is empowered to impose under a 1974 law authorizing retaliatory tariffs and sanctions in response to China’s alleged theft of US intellectual property.
January 22, 2018 Trump imposes tariffs on solar panels and washing machines from all countries except Canada.
March 8, 2018 Trump imposes 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminum on all countries.
March 22, 2018 Trump files a WTO case against China for discriminatory licensing practices. He makes plans to restrict Chinese investments and influence in the US technology sector and to impose tariffs on information technology, communications technology, machinery, and aerospace products.
April 2, 2018 The China US trade war is almost there — China hits 128 US products with tariffs that go up to 25%.
April 3, 2018 Trump announces his plans to impose 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products.
April 4, 2018 China retaliates — tariffs are imposed on about $50 billion worth of American products. Trump denies the existence of any kind of trade war. In a statement, he says, “That war was lost many years ago by the foolish or incompetent people who represented the US.”
May 15, 2018 Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and General Secretary Xi Jinping visit Washington for trade talks.
May 20, 2018 China agrees to reduce America’s trade deficit by purchasing more American goods. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that a trade war is on hold, but White House National Trade Council director Peter Navarro contradicts him, saying there is no trade war, merely a trade dispute.
June 6, 2018 US China trade war news is bad and getting worse — 25% tariffs are imposed on $34 billion of Chinese imports. The American government says 25% tariffs will be introduced on another $16 billion of Chinese goods after a public comment period. China doesn’t back down. It introduces retaliatory tariffs on $34 billion of US goods.
July 10, 2018 The American government announces its intention to introduce 10% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports.
August 1, 2018 President Trump pushes the United States Trade Representative to raise tariffs on Chinese imports to 25% instead of 10%.
August 8, 2018 New tariff are finalized. The United States Trade Representative publishes a final list of 279 goods worth $16 billion. They are to be subject to 25% tariffs starting August 23. US and China trade war latest news reports show that China won’t back down. The country immediately retaliates with 25% tariffs on $16 billion of American goods.
August 14, 2018 China files a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization, saying that America’s tariffs on foreign solar panels violate a WTO ruling and destabilize the market.
August 23, 2018 The 25% tariffs from America and China go into effect. China files another complaint with the WTO, this time about the additional tariffs.
September 17, 2018 Trump announces more tariffs — $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are to be subject to an additional 10% starting September 24. Trump threatens additional tariffs should China retaliate.
September 24, 2018 The tariffs go into effect — 10% tariffs are imposed on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and the Trump administration announces that the tariff will increase to 25% by the end of the year. As a response, China imposes duties on $60 billion worth of American goods.
December 1, 2018 The trade war between the US and China shows some promise of slowing down. Trump and Xi Jinping agree to a 90-day suspension of new tariffs. Trump promises to delay new tariffs until at least March 1 while the two countries discuss trade. In turn, Xi Jinping promises to buy a substantial amount of American goods.
February 24, 2019 Trump agrees to delay the new tariffs further. The deadline is extended indefinitely and the tariffs are left at 10%.
May 5, 2019 Trump announces via tweet that he intends to raise tariffs.
May 8, 2019 The Trump administration convinces the president that the government can’t make formal announcements over Twitter. The administration makes a public statement that it intends to hike the tariffs on May 10 because, it says, China backtracked on previously agreed-upon deals.
May 10, 2019 The US China trade war latest action: Tariffs are hiked to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
June 18, 2019 Donald Trump and Xi Jinping talk over the phone and agree to more trade talks in an attempt to get the situation under control.
June 29, 2019 Trump and Xi attend the G20 Summit in Osaka. Trump announces a truce and says there won’t be any more additional tariffs for the time being. He agrees to ease restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. He also makes a claim: “China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product, and they’re going to start that very soon, almost immediately.” China disputes making such a commitment. The purchases are never made.
August 1, 2019 Trade negotiations stall. Trump says he wants to introduce a 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods in addition to the 25% tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods that’s already in effect. He says this is because China is not following through on a supposed promise to buy food and agricultural products. Trump says trade talks will continue despite the tariffs and that they could be introduced gradually.
August 5, 2019 US China trade war tensions heat up past the boiling point. China responds to Trump’s threats by halting purchases of American agricultural products entirely and by devaluing the yuan past its longstanding 7-yuan-per-dollar level. Equity markets experience a sharp fall. The US Treasury calls China a “currency manipulator.” The US dollar drops in value and gold rises to a six-year high.
August 6, 2019 The Chinese central bank, the People’s Bank of China, claims that China did not and will not use the yuan as a tool to respond to trade war threats. The American government announces that trade talks are planned in September and says that tariff plans could be changed if the talks go well. The administration says it wants to resolve the China US trade war as soon as possible.
August 9, 2019 Trump says he’s not ready to make a deal with China. He suggests he might cancel or postpone a trade deal in September and he says America will refrain from doing business with Huawei. This is in direct opposition to his promise to Xi Jinping. Later, a White House official clarifies the president’s statement. Apparently, the president was referring to government purchases of Huawei equipment, not sales requests from US companies.
August 13, 2019 Trump delays some tariffs. This means that $112 billion worth are still to take effect on September 1, but an additional $160 billion in duties won’t be imposed until December. The administration says the tariffs are postponed to avoid harming the American consumer during the Christmas season.
August 23, 2019 All about the US China trade war seems to be going downhill. China announces retaliation on $75 billion worth of American goods, effective September 1. In response, Trump issues an order to American companies via Twitter: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” The order is without any legal precedent. Trump says tariffs will be raised from 25% to 30% on the existing $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and from 10% to 15% on the remaining $300 billion worth of goods. The first round of new tariffs is supposed to go into effect on October 1, and the second on December 15.
August 24–August 26, 2019 The G7 Summit. Asked about whether there will be new tariff hikes, Donald Trump says, “Yeah, sure, why not? Might as well. Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything.” The sentence summarizes the general sentiment of the G7 Summit. The president changes his mind about whether he wants to introduce more tariffs several times during the summit and leaves the rest of the world leaders largely confused. When it comes to the US China trade war, President Trump gives no clear indications of the direction he wants to take.
September 1, 2019 Previously announced tariffs go into effect. There’s a 15% tariff on more than $112 worth of Chinese goods, which means that two-thirds of Chinese goods coming into America are now subject to duties. China imposes 5%-10% tariffs on one-third of 5,078 goods from America. The remainder are set to be subject to duties starting December 15.
September 4, 2019 The United States Trade Representative and Chinese state media announce there will be new trade talks in mid-September.
September 11, 2019 China announces it will exempt 16 types of American products from tariffs for one year. Trump announces that he will delay tariff increases from October 1 to October 15.
September 20, 2019 More US and China trade news — America exempts around 400 products from tariffs. The war is rough on a multitude of US companies.
October 7, 2019 America adds 28 companies in China to an export blacklist. The reason stated is a violation of human rights. The Chinese president says he plans to retaliate.
October 10-29, 2019 The 13th round of negotiations starts. Trump, Lighthizer, and Mnuchin talk to the Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and agree to take steps to ease tensions. The terms are still not clear and they’re not put to paper.
November 29, 2019 The Trump war with China shows no end in sight, but the President promises he will shield dozens of products from tariffs. This is seen as a political move to ease the concerns of Trump’s voters before the 2020 election.

US-China Trade War: The Big Picture

Let’s start at the beginning. A trade war is the kind of conflict where, instead of shooting bullets, countries shoot tariffs at each other. It usually happens when one country has a big trade deficit with another country. In modern times, national economies are deeply connected — countries rely on each other and work to sustain each other through open, bilateral trade. When one country ends up benefiting more from a trade deal, there’s a big problem.

What is a trade deficit?

There’s a lot of talk of import quotas and trade deficits in this US China trade war summary. A trade deficit is what started the war. Essentially, America imports more products from China than China imports from America. That means a lot of our money is flowing to manufacturers and others outside our borders.

Trade deficits aren’t always bad. Sometimes an increase in foreign goods can increase competition and lower the price of domestic products for consumers. This can help curb inflation and increase the number of goods and services available to consumers. Trade deficits often resolve themselves, but the trade deficit with China has become severe enough to be of real concern for America, sufficient cause to start the China US trade war. To resolve a trade deficit, protectionist policies such as tariffs can be introduced.

What is protectionism?

Protectionism is when one country restricts trade with other nations to protect its own economy. The US China trade war is an example of protectionist policies. America is placing restrictions on international trade in an attempt to get consumers to spend less on Chinese products and more on American products. Here are some of the weapons a country can use in prosecuting a trade war: import quotas, tariffs, product standards, government subsidies.

Import quotas: A way for the government to limit the number of products that can be imported from other countries. Quotas prevent the domestic market from getting flooded with foreign products and they protect American manufacturers.

Product standards: We haven’t seen too much of this in the trade war with China. High regulatory standards can prevent the import of foreign products. Standards can be written fairly to protect consumers or unfairly to favor domestic producers over foreign competitors.

Government subsidies: Whether it’s a tax break or actual cash payments, government subsidies make it easier for domestic companies to be more competitive in the market.

For the most part, the US-China trade war has been conducted with tariffs.

What are tariffs?

Tariffs are simply taxes on imported goods that the government collects on the border. They are customarily used to protect a country’s production capacity. The reasoning is that, if tariffs are levied on foreign goods, prices will rise and consumers will opt to buy domestic goods instead.

How do tariffs affect the economy?

It depends. Sometimes they can help the economy get back on its feet by reducing trade deficits. In the case of the China US trade war, tariffs are slowing down the global economy. Fewer goods are being traded, and consumer spending power has decreased.

The short-term consequences aren’t terrible, but if this war keeps going, we’ll be looking at lowered GPD, consumer confidence, and production. Tariffs are raising the cost of parts and materials, which means private-sector output will be reduced. Higher consumer prices mean that the after-tax value of both labor and capital will be reduced. Since both workers and employers will earn less, they’ll spend less, work less, and invest less.

The US has also accused China of currency manipulation.

What is currency manipulation?

There has been a lot of talk of currency manipulation in the China vs US trade war.

Exchange rates are critical to international commerce. Since different countries use different currencies, there must be a way to exchange currencies at fair rates relative to each other. Values fluctuate, and exchange rates are constantly changing.

When a country sells more stuff than it buys, the value of its currency tends to go up — since more people are buying things from that country, there is a greater demand to buy the currency. This demand means that the market prices go up, and this makes for a strong currency with a higher value.

Now consider the US China trade war, where one country sells more than it buys and has a trade surplus. Since a lot of people are buying the currency to buy things from that country, the goods from that country start to cost more. This isn’t usually a problem. The country with the strong currency can buy more things from other countries, and things balance out.

Here’s where manipulation comes in — instead of buying goods, a country can also buy huge quantities of other currencies. It can keep the demand for its products high because the other currencies now have higher values. The country’s own products now cost less, and products from other countries are more expensive. In the case of China, devaluing the yuan against the dollar means China can keep its trade surplus up and America is hit with an even bigger deficit.

The US China Trade War’s Impact on the Global Economy

North America

The US is dead set on reducing its trade deficit by any means necessary. For now, the Trump administration is introducing protectionist policies in an attempt to get China to cooperate while simultaneously trying to disrupt the Asian superpower’s “Made in China 2025” initiative.

The US China trade war tariffs that the two countries have been flinging at each other have slowed down the global economy significantly, but there are no clear winners yet. Neither of the two countries seems willing to back down, and both President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have promised to keep introducing tariffs and import quotas for as long as necessary.

What happens next depends largely on how long the trade war lasts. A protracted conflict would hurt most national economies around the world, but in order to resolve it, someone has to back down at some point or a mutually satisfying compromise must be reached.

The latest US China trade war negotiations didn’t resolve the issue. The next round of negotiations is set for October 2019. Right now, American companies are suffering because they can’t procure the equipment and parts they need at reasonable prices. Markets are volatile and business investment is slowing down all across the country. If the war doesn’t end soon, American businesses will have to find new trading partners to sustain themselves.

Economists are still having debates over the trade war. Some believe it will bring nothing but economic hardship, while others say it will pay off in the long run. It could be that the only way to put a stop to China’s unfair trade practices is to engage in an open war that will stunt the country’s progress.

Now let’s take a look at our polite neighbor to the north: Canada.

For the most part, Canada is likely to be fine. The US China trade war has been somewhat beneficial for Canada because its exports to the US have increased. Products like soybeans, computer chips, lobsters, and other goods are now being sold to China as the US/China relationship suffers. The Canadian economy is experiencing moderate growth and economic indicators are looking up.


Europe is likely to suffer from the effects of the US China trade war, particularly if China targets companies such as BMW and Mercedes Benz. Germany is currently having a particularly hard time because 47% of its economic output relies on healthy trade relationships. The strain caused by the trade war has been keeping German business confidence low for the past eight months. German companies that make luxury cars and complex industrial machinery usually dominate the market, but lately their grasp has been slipping because of a global trade slowdown. Exports and industrial production are falling, and job gains are slowing down. 

Despite sluggish economic growth in Europe, it’s possible that the China US trade war could open up new opportunities for certain sectors. European factory machinery, cars, chemicals, aircraft, and computer chips could potentially replace Chinese and American products in international markets. 

One danger for the European economy lies in the kind of trade deal the Trump administration makes with China. If the two countries make a deal aimed at reducing America’s trade deficit, it could come at the expense of European companies and the products they export. For now, both China and the US are attempting to woo Europe and establish stronger trade deals to minimize the impact of the war.  


US-China trade war consequences have been bad for Asian exports. China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Indonesia have all experienced a severe drop in international trade, while Singapore and Thailand have suffered to a slightly lesser extent. 

The slump needn’t last long, however. While China wrangles with the US, other Asian countries are likely to start using the conflict to their benefit. Trade redirection to countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia means these smaller economies could get a boost, especially if the trade war doesn’t end in the near future. 

Southeast Asian countries will have to invest in infrastructure and production capacity if they truly want to grab this opportunity. While some factories are already being relocated from China to other Asian countries, there hasn’t yet been a fundamental shift. Moreover, Trump’s ire is aimed at any country that has a trade surplus with America, which could affect their relationship with America in the future. 

The US China trade war got more heated when China devalued the yuan and the Trump administration interpreted the move as currency manipulation. This affected Asia as a whole: Nine countries were added to the watchlist for potential currency manipulation, which could end up making it tricky to be a part of any kind of US government procurement contracts in the future. Central banks such as Bank of Thailand and Bank of Indonesia are following the Fed’s move to cut interest rates, and this is affecting global demand for products. If this continues, it will be very difficult for Asian countries to gain much from the trade war, despite the new openings in the market. 

Latin America

Latin America is in a difficult position because it’s being made to choose between China and the US. Both countries are vying for its attention, which gives the region some leverage in the China US trade war. China has managed to overtake the US as Brazil’s biggest trading partner, but America is still pushing for trade talks as the Chinese attempt to gain a stronger foothold in Latin America. 

While this sounds like something that might benefit Latin American countries, in reality it’s likely to harm them as well. Regardless of how the trade war progresses, the region is set to lose one of its biggest trading partners. Emerging economies are being hit the hardest because investors, already nervous about the trade war, are quickly switching to low-risk investments and slowing down growth. 

Middle East

The US China trade war’s effects will be felt far and wide, and Middle Eastern countries are not exempt. In general, any kind of big trade war between two economic powers can slow down global growth. The United Arab Emirates is likely to suffer a reduction in exports because protectionist policies usually cause a slump in product demand. 

Oil exports will also affected. China and the US need oil and they will not import it from each other, so oil exports are increasing in the Middle East. However, a prolonged trade war often involves more protectionist policies that simply slow down growth everywhere. It’s likely that even oil exports will suffer. 


Each US China trade war update shows that the conflict is having a harrowing effect on the African economy. South Africa has a very small, open economy, and as in Germany, trade trouble can easily affect economic output on a deep level. Waning demand has already caused a severe trade deficit  and South Africa’s GDP is dropping slowly. South Africa has no leverage in this war, and it will end up being collateral damage as the big players dish out tariffs and push each other in an attempt to gain advantage. 

Rising interest rates in America are also leading to a weaker South African rand against the dollar. This will affect the price of imported goods and finished manufactured goods (for example, cars and machinery). It will also affect the price of crude oil, which in turn affects petrol prices. Stocks are falling, investments are slowing, and for emerging economies in this region, there will be little support or growth stimulus until the trade war resolves itself. 


According to US China trade war updates, Australia is unlikely to take the brunt of this conflict. Its economy is steady and it’s likely to remain a trading partner to both China and America. If there is a global increase in tariffs it’s bound to slow down economic activity and reduce purchasing power, but for the most part, Australia could get out of this largely unscathed. 

Who benefits the most from the US China trade war?

No one. Countries like Canada and Australia might manage to reap some benefits because they will replace the US and China as the main suppliers of certain goods, but for most countries, the risks and consequences will be greater than the gains. It’s still too early to tell Whether America or China will fare worse, because both countries are economically strong and have a long way to go before exhausting their resources to fight this war. 

Certain African and Asian countries will be hit the hardest, and Europe will suffer its own share of problems, particularly Germany. Latin America’s economy is likely to contract, and the Middle East is likely to retain some measure of balance.

When did the trade war start?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment the trade war started because America kept denying that it was any kind of war at all. 

The day the first round of tariffs hit can be used as a starting point — January 22, 2018. On that day, President Trump announced his tariffs on solar panels and washing machines. All countries were subject to tariffs at that point, but it was the first step in the battle. At that point, 8% of all solar panels imported into America came from China. 

How did the US China trade war start?

The China US trade war was started by America as a response to what President Trump views as China’s unfair trade practices. America accused China of intentionally growing the trade deficit in America, of stealing intellectual property, and of forced transfer of American technology into China. The US published a report titled “Findings of the Investigation into China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.” The report was published in March 2018.

What is China’s main export to the US?

Broadcasting equipment is China’s main export to the US. Broadcasting equipment includes TV, radio, Bluetooth, microwave, antenna, digital, FM, and AM equipment. 

What is our trade deficit with China?

Trade war statistics show that America’s deficit with China was about $420 billion in 2018. America imported $540 billion worth of products from China, but China imported only $120 billion of American products. This is what created the trade deficit. America’s trade deficit with China was just $91 billion in 2001. 

When did the US start trading with China?

China and America signed a bilateral trade deal in 1979. They re-established diplomatic relations and immediately built up to $4 billion in trade. China is America’s largest trading partner and one of America’s biggest suppliers of advanced technology. 

How much does China owe the US?

China’s national debt is $5.2 trillion, but all of it is owed within China. Global debt is a tricky subject, but it’s somewhat related to the China US trade war — since China owes all of its debt, none of it belongs to America, meaning we can’t use it as leverage of any sort. Because China owns a great deal of US debt, it has an additional weapon in the trade war. 

What is the current US tariff rate?

The US currently has a 2% average tariff rate on industrial goods. About 50% of all goods entering America are not subject to tariffs at all. As for Trump tariffs on China, they range from 10% to 25% on most Chinese goods. The administration plans to introduce even more.  

Who is China’s biggest trade partner?

One of the reasons that the trade war between China and the US is so complicated is because they are each other’s biggest trading partners. Besides America, China also trades a lot with Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. 

Main players — Key US China Trade War Statistics

United States of America

America has the third-largest export economy in the world.

US-China trade war updates definitely haven’t changed the facts yet — both countries are economic giants that export a lot of their goods all over the world. According to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), America also has the seventh-most complex economy in the world. ECI is a measure of a country’s productive capabilities and economic activity, and it gives us good insight into how well a country handles imports and exports. These numbers from 2017 are the latest available data comparing world economies before the trade war. 

America exported $1.25 trillion worth of products in 2017.

Here are the main US exports: refined petroleum ($74.5 billion); cars ($56 billion); planes, helicopters, and spacecraft ($54 billion); gas turbines ($31.6 billion); and packaged medication ($29.5 billion). The China US trade war hasn’t made a huge impact on America’s main exports yet, but the numbers are constantly shifting. The US will continue to do what it does best — make vehicles and machine parts that are in high demand all over the world. 

Here are just a few more examples of US goods exports in 2017: crude oil, fuel, and other petroleum products brought in $109 billion; civilian aircraft and engines brought in $99 billion; auto parts brought in $86 billion.

Mexico ($181 billion), Canada ($149 billion), China ($133 billion), Japan ($66.9 billion), and Germany ($61.6 billion) are America’s top export destinations.

When it comes to service exports, the travel and transportation industry takes the cake with $236 billion earned. It’s followed by the finance and insurance industry, which earned $76 billion internationally. 

America imported $2.16 trillion worth of products in 2017.

This is what America is afraid of in the US-China trade war. The country imported more than it exported in 2017, and this resulted in a negative trade balance of $910 billion. China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are America’s top import partners. 

Here’s what America likes to import the most: cars ($178 billion), crude petroleum ($129 billion), broadcasting equipment ($105 billion), computers ($73.5 billion), and vehicle parts ($67.1 billion). 

Out of the $2.16 trillion worth of goods that were imported, $476 billion came from China alone. These countries definitely rely on each other to generate profits and keep the money flowing. 

The US real GDP in 2017 was $19.4 trillion, and it grew by 2.20% compared to 2016.

A year before the China vs US trade war began, US GDP per capita was about $59,500. President Trump came into office that year. Trump and China became fast enemies as the president wondered how to lessen the trade deficit created by the country’s toughest competitor. 

America makes up 23.89% of the world economy.

In 2018, America’s nominal GDP was $20.49 trillion, which gives the US the top spot as the biggest economy in the world. It has the highest economic productivity, and its gargantuan influence on the world hasn’t been diminished by the China trade war. 

US real GDP grew at a 2% annual rate in the second quarter of 2019.

The economy grew by 3.1% in the first quarter of 2019, but the US GDP by year rate slowed to 2% in the second quarter. The American economy is slowing down as a consequence of the trade war and other factors, and the only thing propping it up is consumer spending, which is still strong. Investments and manufacturing are shaky, income inequality is on the rise, and businesses are suffering because of tariffs. What happens next will depend largely on how long the trade war lasts. If Trump and XiJinping manage to find a compromise, things could get back to normal. If not, we might be facing a worldwide recession. 

People’s Republic of China

China has the largest export economy in the world.

As the trade war between the US and China heats up, China is still dominating the world’s export stage. According to the ECI, China has the 33rd most complex economy of all the countries in the world. China is intent on beating America in a long-term battle for economic power. 

China exported $2.41 trillion worth of products in 2017.

China’s main exports are: broadcasting equipment ($231 billion), computers ($146 billion), office machine parts ($90.8 billion), integrated circuits ($80.1 billion), and telephones ($62 billion). Television, radio broadcasting, antenna, wireless, digital, and Bluetooth all fall under the broadcasting category, and this made up 9.6% of all Chinese exports in 2017. 

China’s main exporting destinations are America ($476 billion), Hong Kong ($255 billion), Japan ($157 billion), Germany ($109 billion), and South Korea ($98.1 billion). 

China imported $1.54 trillion worth of products in 2017.

The US China trade war made an impact on China’s imports, but America is still one of its biggest trading partners. China’s main imports are integrated circuits ($207 billion), crude petroleum ($144 billion), iron ore ($59 billion), cars ($46.8 billion), and gold ($40.3 billion). Integrated circuits made up 13% of its total imports, followed by 9.4% of crude petroleum, and 3% that went to car imports. 

China’s biggest import origins are: other Asian countries ($151B), South Korea ($149B), Japan ($136B), the United States ($133B), and Germany ($95B).

China’s GDP as $12.2 trillion in 2017, 6.9% higher than in 2016.

In 2017, China’s GDP per capita was $16,800. Ever since Donald Trump became president, he has claimed that China engages in unfair trade practices and vowed to put a stop to it. He threatened tariffs, and while the two countries tried to smooth their relations, their antagonistic attitudes eventually led to a full-fledged conflict. When 2018 came, Trump made good on his promise and slapped $34 billion worth of tariffs on China. 

China makes up 15.86% of the world’s economy.

Despite the US China trade war, China is still growing and expanding, racing with America to become the greatest economic force in the world. While China has a long way to go, it is playing the long game and is a very serious contender for the throne. America needs to watch out if it wants to keep playing top dog because the Chinese have a sound economic strategy and its leaders are not afraid to play dirty to win.

China’s GDP showed a 6.6% increase in 2018.

China’s economy seems to be growing at an alarming pace. However, China has been criticized in the past for lying about GDP figures. According to research, the country has been skewing numbers for more than a decade now, so it’s difficult to pin down details of the country’s progress. Here’s another source that talks about China’s exaggerated GDP. 

What Winning a Trade War Looks Like

It’s difficult to assess the pros and cons of the US China trade war. It’s an ongoing conflict that seems to have no end in sight, and it’s impossible to predict how Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will tackle the problems and fix the broken friendship between the two countries.

In truth, the solution could be simple — Trump wants China to open its markets to US exports, and Xi Jinping wants Trump to reduce or eliminate tariffs. If the two countries could reach a compromise where these two requirements are met, the trade war could potentially end with both sides getting what they want.

However, the game of politics requires that wars end with a clear winner and a clear loser. There are big egos in the room, and progress has been slow. 

In truth, this protracted conflict will end up costing both countries and the rest of the world dearly. In the twenty-first century, the economies of the world are woven together. They depend on each other. What hurts one country has ripple effects around the world.

The longer the US China trade war goes on, the bigger the cost will be, and the full effects might not be felt right away. As the global GDP staggers, as trade slows down, as countries start introducing more protectionist policies to save their own economies, we’ll have to find new ways to fix diplomatic relations and make fair, mutually beneficial trade deals. 


About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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