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- Washington and Beijing have placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods.
- The results have been more negative for the US than for China, according to a recent HSBC research note.
- While China has been benefiting from strong import demand in most of its other trading partners except for the US and Germany, the analysts said, the US has not.
Americans have felt relatively more pain from President Donald Trump’s trade war than Chinese consumers and businesses, according to analysts at HSBC.
Studies of trade-war impacts by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank found the “likely impact on the US economy to be significantly more negative than on China,” the analysts Janet Henry and James Pomeroy said in a research note. “Whereas China has been benefiting from strong import demand in most of its other trading partners except for the US (and Germany, due to cars),” they said, “the US has not.”
After tariffs were placed on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of products between the US and China, signs of threatened growth have emerged across the global economy. On Thursday, a key gauge of factory activity in the US was fell by its most in more than a decade in December as hiring and new orders slowed sharply.
“The story here is that the trade war, coupled with China’s underlying slowdown, is wreaking havoc in both countries,” said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “This makes us all the more convinced that a meaningful trade deal will be done over the next few months, but the manufacturing numbers will get worse before they get better.”
But aside from products facing earlier tariffs — including washing machines, solar panels, and metals — Chinese exports to the US have held up better than expected. Washington’s goods trade deficit with Beijing hit an all-time high of $43.1 billion in November, with shipments up by nearly a tenth from a year earlier.
“One problem for the US is that many of its large export markets are not growing as quickly,” the HSBC analysts said. “Another is that, according to US customs data, it is not just the US products that China imposed its retaliatory tariffs on that have seen weakening export growth to China, but US exports to China have seen some softening across the board.”
To be sure, the US is far from alone in hurting from the tariffs, which Trump asserts are necessary to force China to change business practices the US sees as unfair. Trade barriers come at a particularly difficult time for officials in Beijing, who are grappling with an economy that has been growing at its weakest pace in a decade.
Manufacturing data out Wednesday showed China’s private manufacturing activity contracted in December for the first time in 19 months. Adding to concern, Apple CEO Tim Cook said later that day that the company had underestimated the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” he said in the letter lowering Apple’s revenue forecast.
Still, recent equity performance suggests both countries have suffered from rising protectionism. Stock markets around the world have shuddered in wake of the trade war, recording their some of the largest annual drops in years at the end of 2018. In the US, for instance, equities had their worst year since the financial crisis.