Analysis by Pew Research has revealed that the U.S. has among the lowest tariff rates against imported goods in the world. It also shows that its current tariff rates are close to the lowest they’ve been in the nation’s history. In 2016 the average tariff applied by the U.S. on imported goods was 1.61%. That was about the same as the 1.6% the European Union applies on imports, and a tick higher than Japan’s 1.35% levy. Canada’s tariff rate was the lowest at 0.85%.
Brazil had the highest rate tariff at 8%, preceded by India at 6.3%, then Mexico with 4.4%. China’s 3.5% rate is more than double the U.S.’ 1.61%.
President Trump spurred controversy with his instituting of import tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as also solar panels and washing machines earlier this year. “You’re going to have people getting jobs again and we’re going to be making our own product again,” President Trump said at a signing event for the solar-panel tariffs earlier this year.
The President signed an executive order imposing 50% tariffs on washing machines and 30% tariffs on solar panels this past January. Both tariffs decrease over time and eventually expire; the washing machine tax after three years, the solar panel tax after four years. “Our action today helps to create jobs in America for Americans,” the president said at the signing event. “A lot of manufacturers will be coming to the United States to build both washing machines and also solar.”
Earlier this month, the President announced 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminum. The President instituted the charges after a report from the Commerce Department found that steel and aluminum imports constituted a threat to national security.
Then last week the President announced $50 billion in tariffs against the country of China. The White House didn’t disclose which products or industries might be affected but assured the list would be “long.” The taxes are aimed at intellectual property theft and violations of technology transfer agreements that have served as disadvantages for U.S. companies and disagreements, the administration said. The move was aimed at correcting what President Trump called, “the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world.”
“It’s out of control,” he added.
China responded by announced a 25% tariff on U.S. pork imports and recycled aluminum and a 15% tariff on American steel pipes, fruit and wine. The country said it will also bring cases against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization. “China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war,” China’s embassy in Washington said a statement following the announcement by the Trump administration. “China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures,” it said.
President Trump campaigned on the promise righting many years of unfair trade policies that, he claims, benefited foreign countries but harmed American workers. “We’re going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign,” he said earlier this month. He’s also reiterated that he’s not interested in trade war, only in bringing the U.S.’ trade deficit more in balance.
“The word is “reciprocal,”’ the President said this week at the event announcing the tariffs against China. “That’s the word I want everyone to remember. We want reciprocal…If they charge us, we charge them the same thing. That’s the way it’s got to be. That’s not the way it is. For many, many years — for many decades, it has not been that way.”