Some 19 months ago, President Donald Trump declared, “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” While it’s unlikely many people other than the president believed that, time has reinforced the fallacy of the statement. The United States’ ongoing trade war with China continues to negatively impact producers, exporters and consumers throughout Washington and the rest of the nation.
Frankly, we are tired of all the winning.
“Washington’s ports are gateways to the rest of the world,” Lori Otto Punke, president of the Washington Council on International Trade, said this month. “While we should absolutely be working to level the playing field for U.S. goods and services in markets around the world, the current tariff-first strategy is creating significant harm to our exporters, particularly among our farmers, seafood, and agriculture producers like potatoes, hay, salmon, cherries, and fresh crab.”
The Washington Council on International Trade, in conjunction with several major ports along the West Coast, sent a letter to the president detailing the impact of the trade war. Among them: Wheat exports to China from ports along the Columbia River “have nearly ceased this year,” and exports of soybeans from California ports have declined 97 percent.
That has followed the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by China in the wake of Trump’s tariffs upon goods from that nation. When China increases tariffs, it increases the cost to Chinese consumers and leads them to look elsewhere for desired goods. When those markets dry up, it hurts U.S. producers and those who work along the supply chain, including at ports; an estimated 40 percent of Washington jobs are tied to trade.
Experts warn that recovering those markets will be difficult if not impossible, as Chinese vendors establish relationships with suppliers from other countries.