This story has been updated.
President Donald Trump two weeks ago approved a possible $50 billion tariff hike on Chinese goods such as steel and aluminum in a dispute over Beijing’s technology policy, a move that experts say would hurt many countries, including close allies like the European Union.
The spat worsened Sunday when in retaliation, China hiked tariffs on approximately $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, including fresh and dried fruits, nuts and sparkling wine. The hike matched a March 23 list of potential tariffs.
“American politicians better realize sooner rather than later that China would never submit if the U.S. launched a trade war,” the country’s ruling Communist Party wrote in the Global Times. “Even though China and the U.S. have not publicly said they are in a trade war, the sparks of such a war have already started to fly.”
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.
“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.”
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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