President Donald Trump declared on March 2 via Twitter: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
The tweet marked the announcement that the US would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports coming into the country — and the start of a growing trade war.
Since that point, Trump has opened up trade battles on a series of fronts, and the US and other countries around the world have slapped tariffs on $85 billion worth of goods.
Trump has long been a fan of tough action on trade. In the 1980s, the then-real estate mogul railed against the US’s trade deficit and warned of “other countries ripping off the United States.” In a 1990 Playboy interview, Trump was asked about his first action if he ever became president.
“Many things. A toughness of attitude would prevail,” Trump said. “I’d throw a tax on every Mercedes-Benz rolling into this country and on all Japanese products, and we’d have wonderful allies again.”
Given the president’s decades-long history of protectionist statements and direct signals on the campaign trail, the recent spate of trade restrictions should come as no surprise.
So far, Trump has used tariffs as the main weapon in his trade war. A tariff is a tax on a good coming into the US, also known as a duty. These duties are collected by Customs and Border Protection at the good’s port of entry. Once tariffs go into place, importers face the extra fee immediately.
Trump placed tariffs on a wide variety of goods and the moves are starting to make an impact on the US economy, prices, and more. Here’s a breakdown of how Trump’s trade fight is starting to take its toll.