What’s at stake in Trump’s looming trade war with China

US President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an order imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The tariffs, which will go into effect in 15 days, exempt Canada and Mexico for now, with the possibility of other states to be exempted as well. Combined with the resignation earlier this week of Gary Cohn, they signal that Trump is ready to make good on campaign promises of getting tough on trade—and in particular with China.

At the same time, China is the most important market for US exports outside of NAFTA. About one-fifth of American exports to China are machines, including computing and communications devices. Fourteen percent are agricultural products, and another 8 percent are cars. US direct investment in the country was worth $92 billion by 2016, according to official data, with some research putting the figure much higher. The 2017 US-China Business Council Member Survey found that most respondents believe that growth prospects in China are better than in other markets around the world.