As China Fires Back in Trade War, Here Are the Winners And Losers

Updated on
  • Soybean farmers, automakers will be hit by Chinese tariffs
  • Duties may also hurt sales of Boeing’s best-selling plane
The tariffs are targeted to hurt pro-trump states, says Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at Asia Society.

In the brewing trade-war between the U.S. and China, the list of losers already outweighs the winners.

President Donald Trump escalated tensions on Tuesday, proposing tariffs on a range of Chinese-made products worth about $50 billion with a focus on high-tech items. China wasted no time in firing back with 25 percent tariffs on imports of 106 U.S. products covering everything from soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft.

Here are some of the businesses affected on both sides of the Pacific.

Loser: America’s Midwest Farmers

The Chinese tariffs are a huge blow to American growers, especially those in Midwestern states that Trump needs to win re-election in 2020. China is the biggest buyer of U.S. soybeans, picking up about a third of the entire U.S. crop. The trade is worth about $14 billion. Soybean prices dropped as much as 5.3 percent in Chicago, the most since July 2016.

Read more: China Hits U.S. Where It Hurts With 25% Tariff on Soybeans

Winner: South American Growers

Brazil and Argentina are the main competitors to U.S. growers in the market for soybeans and corn. They’ll be eager to pick up any lost business, but they won’t be able to completely replace U.S. trade.

Loser: Tech Companies with Chinese Factories

The U.S. tariffs target the high-end technology products made in China. That could mean that companies like Apple Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. that operate significant Chinese production bases face higher costs or supply-chain disruption. The biggest blow by far is to almost $4 billion worth flat-panel TV screens, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Losers: U.S. Automakers (including Tesla)

China plans to slap tariffs on most vehicles including electric cars. Tesla Inc. is at particular risk as it relies on American-made vehicles for all its Chinese sales. Other U.S. carmakers such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. also manufacture in China.

One silver lining: American automakers that import electric vehicle batteries from China were spared from the U.S. tariffs. Batteries for items like power tools, watches and smoke alarms were hit instead.

Read more: Tesla at Risk From China Tariffs, Adding to Musk’s Woes

Loser: Boeing

China’s tariffs could hurt sales of some of Boeing Co.’s best-selling planes, such as the 737 family of passenger jets and put the company at a disadvantage to Airbus SE. China is a crucial market for Boeing.

Winner: U.S. Metalworks

The latest round of proposed U.S. tariffs target several specific categories of steel and aluminum made in China. That’s on top of duties announced last month, meaning that some forms of those products will face a 50 percent fee to reach the U.S., further boosting prices for some products.

Loser: Generic Drugmakers

Though the U.S. tariffs target Chinese drug makers, those on the losing side may be American pharmaceutical companies that make generics such as Mylan NV. They’ll face having to pay more for raw ingredients, such as insulin used by diabetics and the anti-allergic-reaction drug epinephrine.

Loser: Chinese BBQ

China is by far the world’s biggest buyer of soybeans, which are mostly crushed and fed to pigs. The soy tariffs could ultimately drive up costs for Chinese pig farmers and meat prices for 1.3 billion citizens.

Loser: South Korea

President Moon Jae-in said growing trade protectionism and trade conflict between the U.S. and China could hurt the Korean economy, and he urged the country to prepare. The nation sells huge volumes of parts and components that go into China’s final products.

For more on the U.S.-China tariffs dispute

Read more on why Trump is targeting China’s tech
Here’s Gadfly on how the U.S. producer could suffer
Link to the full list from the USTR

— With assistance by Dong Lyu, Ying Tian, and Agnieszka De Sousa

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