Any trade war with China would open up Georgia, the seventh largest importing state and 12th largest exporting state in America, to economic pain, according to a local economist Thomas Smith of Emory University’s Goizueta School.
Without an extensive analysis, it is hard to estimate how many jobs are directly connected to the China trade, since different kinds of products have different economic impacts, Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But it’s a big number.
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“It’s thousands, tens of thousands,” Smith said. “Tens of thousands of people are reliant on the fact that we have an open economy.”
Dramatic cuts in trade “would be impactful,” he added. “We don’t want a trade war.”
In Georgia, logistics is a large part of the economy and trade accounts for a sizeable share of that. China is Georgia’s top importer nation.
There are 228,200 jobs in a category dominated by transportation and warehousing, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
There are also more than 720,000 jobs in wholesale and in the retail sector, where many of the products end up being bought by Georgians.
Trade problems would have a much greater impact on jobs outside metro Atlanta, where the largest exports are made, Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“But inside Atlanta, it would affect us as consumers,” he said. “The hospitality folks will scream because China is where they get a lot of fish and shrimp. And there is no substitute for the iPhone.”
Over the past decade, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia exports to China have grown by 41 percent, exceeding $2.8 billion in 2017.
And in 2016, Georgia's imports to China totaled $18.5 billion. The state's exports to China amounted to $2.5 billion. Its total trade — the sum of exports and imports — came out to $25.06 billion last year.
Here are some of Georgia’s top import products from China:
- Automatic data processing machines
- Floor coverings of plastics
And the state’s top exports:
- Civilian aircraft
- Chemical woodpulp
- Kraft paper and paperboard
- Medical instruments
Some of the leading Chinese companies in Georgia include electronics company Hisense, SANY America and TravelSky.
In 2016, according to the GDOE, Chinese auto and aviation tire manufacturer Sentury Tire announced an investment of $530 million in the state, resulting in more than 1,000 jobs. The factory complex in LaGrange, about 70 miles southwest of Atlanta, is the first in North America for the company, the AJC previously reported.
Learn more about Georgia’s China connection at georgia.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.