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How a trade war could hurt these US states

The United States is on the verge of a possible trade war.The Trump administration imposed ta...

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 8:47 PM
Updated: Mar 22, 2018 8:47 PM

The United States is on the verge of a possible trade war.

The Trump administration imposed tariffs on at least $60 billion in Chinese imports Thursday. Those will come on top of the controversial steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect Friday.

The moves have producers in almost every state bracing for blowback. Big manufacturers could pay more for the steel they use to make plane engines, auto parts and building materials. And American farmers could be in the crosshairs of China, a big importer of US crops.

While China has not said which US exports it might target, agricultural products have historically been a favorite for retaliation.

Most recently, China launched an investigation into US sorghum exports in response to an earlier round of tariffs imposed on Chinese washing machines and solar panels. The United States sold nearly $1 billion worth of sorghum to China in 2017. Should China impose duties on those exports, states like Kansas, which account for nearly half of the nation's sorghum production, could take a sizable financial hit.

In response to Trump's plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, the European Union published a list of hundreds of US-made products, ranging from peanut butter to pleasure boats, that it would slap with duties.

That would have hurt any number of states that rely heavily on overseas sales of those products. However, on Thursday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee that the EU, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea and Australia will not be subject to the trade penalties once they take effect Friday.

Based on trade data collected by the U.S. Census, here are the export products each state depends on the most, and which tariffs would have the biggest effect.

Related: EU and others may get tariff exemptions

Trade war targets

In 2017, airplanes and airplane parts were the top exports for 17 states, by dollar value. That includes traditional aircraft-producing states like Washington, which exported $41.8 billion worth of planes and parts last year, as well as lesser-known aviation hubs like Kansas and Maryland.

Analysts say that Boeing, which sells billions of dollars worth of airplanes to China, could be a top target for retaliation.

These states would also suffer from the steel tariffs themselves, since steel is a main ingredient for airplane manufacturing. A report by a trade consulting firm released this month found that industries that consume a lot of steel and aluminum, including manufacturing and construction, could shed nearly 100,000 jobs as a result of the tariffs.

With the shale revolution of the last decade, oil and gas have also become important US exports. Crude oil or refined petroleum - which may have been made from oil produced elsewhere - is the top export for six states, including Texas and North Dakota.

Related: Trade war would wipe out gains from tax cuts, analysis finds

Meanwhile, coal is still the top export in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Among the top overseas buyers of US coal is India, which could be stung by the steel and aluminum tariffs if it does not receive an exemption.

Four states have various kinds of electronics as top exports. In Oregon, circuits, processors and controllers are both the state's top export and import, because of all the final production work for semiconductors done by Intel, according to Business Oregon -- the state's economic development agency. China is the top destination for Oregon's semiconductors, making the state yet another potential target for retaliation.

Many states' top imports are related to their top exports. Utah, for example, imports gold that it refines and re-exports. New York does the same with diamonds, which come in raw and then are shipped as a finished product. Tariffs on any of those imports could make exports more expensive as well.

Does D.C. really love peanuts?

Agricultural products show up as the number one export in only four states: Corn from Iowa, beef from Nebraska and Colorado and lobsters from Maine.

However, that may be skewed by how the Census collects its data: From the "origin of movement," which isn't always the same as the place where something was produced. That's particularly important for crops and livestock, which are often consolidated at a central point before being shipped.

It's also important when thinking about import statistics, since the point of import isn't always where a product ends up. California and Texas import an enormous amount of avocados from Mexico, for example, a large portion of which are ultimately destined for consumers in other states.

Tracking imports and exports according to their origin of movement can turn up especially surprising results in places that don't export much at all in the way of goods. Often, it reflects quirks of accounting more than actual trade with foreign markets.

Take Washington, D.C., for example. Going by the Census data, the capital's largest import is peanuts, whole and processed. But that's only because a peanut importing company called Ingredients Distribution International LLC books all its sales at a second floor office in the city's Dupont Circle neighborhood.

Related: Major retailers to Trump: New China tariffs will hurt American shoppers

"In the District, our entire inventory of peanuts doesn't amount to more than 30 pounds, which is kept on hand in a freezer for sampling purposes only," says Alex Slowatek, the company's president. "We don't distribute anything in D.C., nor do we have any customers in D.C., nor even in the surrounding area."

It's the same story with D.C.'s exports. On paper, D.C.'s top export is ammunition - but that's likely only because of all the procurement orders filed by foreign embassies, says Jonathan Brady, the international program manager at the District's Department of Small and Local Business Development.

"Whoever's filling out that information online now is indicating the origin state as the District, which is inaccurate, because we know that manufacturing isn't taking place here," Brady says.

What D.C. does export a lot of: Services, such as architecture and consulting, that don't show up in the Census' trade data at all.

"Those are the firms that have something exportable and can really compete overseas," Brady says.

So far, those services haven't typically been targets for retaliation in the same way that goods have - so D.C. may come through this imminent trade war relatively unscathed.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
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