Given that Trump is implementing tariffs on metal from foreign countries, tariffs are in the news. I understand that they have been extremely low in the United States throughout its Cold War economic dominance. The Reciprocal Tariff act only provided for reciprocally lowering tariffs. Some countries such as Japan are known to be extremely harsh against foreign inputs. The European Union, which is currently threatening, does have tariffs against non EU members. How do current and proposed tariffs on imports into the US compare to what is currently levied against US goods?

  • Came here to ask exactly that. What are the "horrific barriers & tariffs on U.S. products going in" that Trump tweets about?
    – SQB
    Mar 11, 2018 at 7:36
  • @SQB Maybe this sort of thing? (compared to say, this) Mar 12, 2018 at 11:03
  • @RedGrittyBrick Would you care to elaborate? Also, for some reason I can't seem to access that link.
    – Rusty
    Mar 12, 2018 at 22:57
  • 5
    This isn't a question with a short answer. Tariffs are set country by country at an extremely fine grained level (by type of good) and a schedule of tariffs for any one country alone runs hundreds of pages in print. Often the distinctions between goods are political rather than logical - so wine in oak barrels might have one tariff while wine in maple barrels might have another because a key U.S. firm uses maple barrels and lobbied for less competition. A narrower question - looking at particular goods from particular countries would be easier to answer.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 13, 2018 at 0:35
  • @Rusty: The links are to EU Tariffs for steel and wine. Steel tariffs, for my randomly selected type of steel, all seem to be 0%, I linked to a wine tariff as a contrast. Comments are too small to expand usefully on this. I don't have enough for a decent answer (e.g. what equivalent US tariffs are) Mar 13, 2018 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


When I first looked at this question I thought (as you probably did when you asked it) that the answer would be relatively simple. As it turns out, it's not even close to being simple. For example, if you were the owner of a restaurant who wanted to import meat from another country to the US, here is a partial list of things that may determine what tariff you will pay:

  • What animal the meat comes from
  • What type of cut the meat it
  • Whether it is bone-in or boneless
  • Whether the meat has been processed
  • What the quality of the meat is
  • Whether the meat is fresh, chilled or frozen

This is before we've even asked where the meat is coming from, so it would suffice to say that a complete answer to the question would be... complicated. For the curious, you can view a complete list of current tariffs on imports to the US on the United States International Trade Commission website. The most current edition of the Yearly Tariff Data is a spreadsheet with over 12,000 entries.

I highly recommend downloading and browsing through it, because some of the distinctions are fascinating. For example, there is no tariff on the import of a live Mule only if it is intended for immediate slaughter. Also, if you're like me, you'll get a few cheap laughs out of it too...

enter image description here

Of course, this data only reflects tariffs on US imports. As far as I can tell (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) there is not a US government website with a listing of tariffs on US exports. Luckily, I found an excellent website that let's you compare the import/export tariffs of any country and even produces a nice-looking map for you. Here is where you can find this Market Access Map, which is provided by the International Trade Centre.

Just to give an example of what tariffs on US exports look like, I've included below a map I generated for a specific type of car. It seemed like a relevant example since, as a category of goods, cars are among the largest US exports.

enter image description here

For comparison, here's what the map looks like for the same category of vehicles when being imported to the US (US tariffs on foreign cars).

enter image description here

Clearly in this example, the US gets hit with WAY more tariffs by other countries than it puts on imports from them, at least in terms of percent (and probably in dollar amount given that cars are among the largest exports in the US). Of course, this doesn't say anything about tariffs paid on the parts that are used to make those cars, nor the raw materials used to manufacture those parts if either were imported or exported at various points in the manufacturing process, which is fairly common these days. Essentially, I'm saying that this is far from a complete picture... pun intended.

  • nicely done, however perhaps you can help me understand with the table you displayed means. Example: I am in France and someone in the US wants to buy my (01013000) live ass. I agree to sell it for 300 dollars and the buyer will pay 200 for shipping. I see there is an import tariff of 6.8%, Presumably that is based on the value of the animal - so tariff of 20.40 cents. So, does the buyer pay the tariff or does the exporter pay the tariff. In one case the net to me is 279.60 for a 300 dollar live ass (and if I know this I will definitely increase my price to 322.00) or buyer pay 322.40
    – BobE
    May 3, 2018 at 2:52
  • Continue: More importantly, Where does the 22.40 go? If it goes to the US Treasury, isn't it just a tax on an imported item?
    – BobE
    May 3, 2018 at 3:00
  • 1
    @BobE The tariff absolutely is a tax, it's paid to the government of the country that the goods are being sent to, and is paid by the domestic purchaser of the goods. In your example, the buyer would pay 322.40 for your live ass. But it's worth it, right? The government's goal in this case is to make it more expensive for a domestic company to purchase goods from elsewhere, and thereby encourage growth of a domestic industry by forcing companies to buy domestically. There are also 'Specific Tariffs' which are a flat fee, sometimes per item or per pound imported.
    – Texas Red
    May 3, 2018 at 3:32
  • @BobE If you're curious to learn more about how tariffs work, why governments use them, and non-tariff barriers to free trade, this article gives a decent non-technical overview: investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/…
    – Texas Red
    May 3, 2018 at 3:49
  • 1
    @Evargalo Thank you for saying that, it hadn't even crossed my mind that people might google it from work. For anyone who does not know, 'Asses' has several meanings in English. One is for work animals like mules, which is what is literally being referred to by the spreadsheet. It can also mean a person's buttocks, which is the joke I was trying to make in the post. It can also be an insult to people who are rude or mean. I would bet that no nation would be eager to accept imports of other countries' rude people, so perhaps there should be tariffs on them too.
    – Texas Red
    May 3, 2018 at 15:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .