Trump started a trade war with China in 2018 by imposing tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports.

If we calculate the economic win/loss for reach side, which country lost/benefited more as of 2022: China or the USA?

  • 2
    Seems kind of unfair to count to 2022 instead of 2020 considering Trump wasn't president half of that time. That being said, this is not a good question because it involves hypothetical gains added with real losses. It's impossible to answer because we don't have an alternate history where the trade war didn't happen.
    – uberhaxed
    Jul 15, 2022 at 5:24
  • Surely there must be economical studies about that. Jul 15, 2022 at 6:20
  • 1
    I'd be curious to know if any serious efforts to estimate this were made. I might be better to ask on economics.stackexchange.com though. With all the Covid confounders it might be too difficult tough, esp. after 2020. According to some China lost more, but I'm skeptical to put this as an answer because I don't know a lot about the credibility of those sources. Jul 15, 2022 at 6:20
  • @uberhaxed Change of presidents isn't relevant here, as the new administration left the tariffs in place for now. Jul 15, 2022 at 14:07
  • 1
    We can't calculate it. That's outside the scope of this site. You probably can ask a question about whether there has been such a calculation done by an authoritative 3rd party though. So this question is salvageable, but not suitable for this site in its current form.
    – wrod
    Jul 17, 2022 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


Since the original stated reason for the trade war was the deficit USA had in trade with China, we can evaluate the results based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

Year Balance ($bn)
2017 -375167.9
2018 -418232.9
2019 -342629.5
2020 -308139.5
2021 -353493.2
2022(Jan-May) -163149.7

To clarify the last value - for the same period in 2021, the deficit amounted to roughly -$129T, i.e. we see ~1.2 increase of deficit compared to previous year.

The Chinese COVID lockdowns of 2020 noticeably impacted the balance during February-April of 2020, but the data shows that after April 2020 the values are consistent with 2019 values; I would assume the recession due to pandemic dampened the growth somewhat.

Thus, we can see that while deficit shrunk somewhat during the trade war, the deficit is increasing again since 2020, even though most tariffs are still in place. In other words, USA did not manage to meet its goal of balancing out exports with imports, and China still exports more to USA than imports from it; moreover, the trend is still in favor of China, based on first months of 2022.

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