trade advisory

Trade War Impacts Documented in Recent USDA Report

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Trade

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) details the trade war impacts stemming from tariffs on steel and aluminum. The report examines the losses that occurred in 2018 and 2019 due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by Canada, China, the EU, India, Mexico, and Turkey. While tariffs from each country had an impact, losses that resulted were most profound for exports to China. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that farm export losses totaled $27 billion during that time. The findings were published in the report, “The Economic Impacts of Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture.”

The analysis makes comparison to 2017 export numbers in determining how impactful the tariffs were. Agricultural products that saw increased tariffs were valued at $30.4 billion in 2017. Tariff increases ranged between two and 140 percent depending on the particular product line. Of the overall export losses, soybeans were the most impacted. Soybean losses made up 71 percent of the share of estimated trade damages, according to USDA.

Trade War Impacts

Other significant losses were measured in sorghum exports, with $854 million in annualized losses. Pork exports experienced $646 million in annualized losses. Specialty crops, which included fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, saw a decline of six percent. Total annualized losses were measured at $837 million.

The trade war impacts on specialty crops were predominately felt in California. Fresh and processed fruits from California combined for $374 million in trade losses. California tree nut losses measured $199 million. Losses totaled $68 million for California dairy products. Altogether, California products saw more than $683 million annualized losses in ag export cash receipts due to retaliatory tariffs.

Agricultural exports to China have largely rebounded thanks to the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. Another separated retaliatory tariff waiver program has also helped boost exports. While export numbers have significantly increased in the past year, U.S. market share still remains below pre-retaliatory tariff levels, according to USDA.