WASHINGTON – April 16, 2020 – US goods exports to China, important to states’ economies and jobs, fell in 2019 for the second consecutive year. The main reasons for the 11.4 percent drop were tariffs and an uncertain business environment, according to a new report by the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a trade association representing more than 200 US companies that do business with China. China is still the third largest market after Canada and Mexico for US goods exports, valued at nearly $105 billion.
“These numbers quantify the significant economic damage borne by American farmers, ranchers, and small businesses as a result of US and Chinese tariffs,” said Craig Allen, USCBC president.
The data do not reflect possible effects on trade due to COVID-19, which flared up in early 2020.
Services exports, including software licenses, financial and legal services, and travel and education, grew at a snail’s pace compared with the explosive growth of 230 percent over the last decade.
This year and next, China has committed to purchasing $200 billion worth of US goods and services over 2017 amounts as part of the US-China Phase One trade agreement. This could reverse the downward trend in the short term. But the Phase One agreement does not eliminate many of the tariffs already in place, which will continue to hurt US exporters and importers. “Lifting tariffs will be especially important in the wake of the pandemic,” said Allen.
The report indicates a 10 percent drop in US jobs supported by exports to China between 2017 and 2018, a trend that likely continued in 2019 and will be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Trade generates jobs, tax revenue, and a range of economic development activities,” said Allen. “Now more than ever, we need sensible trade policies that continue the robust export growth that we’ve enjoyed during the last decade.”