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The US tariffs on China have been paid almost entirely by US importers: IMF study

Key Points
  • The IMF study says tariff revenue collected from levies on Chinese goods "has been borne almost entirely" by U.S. importers.
  • China and the U.S. have been engaged in a trade war for more than a year. In that time, they have targeted billions of dollars worth of goods with high import tariffs.
  • President Donald Trump claimed on May 8 that the higher levies on Chinese goods are "filling U.S. coffers" to the tune of $100 billion per year.
  • But the IMF says the bilateral trade deficit between China and the U.S. remains "broadly unchanged" even with the tariffs.
Vehicles wait for shipment at Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang, China.
VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are hurting an unintended target as the trade war rages, an International Monetary Fund study found.

The study, released Thursday, said that tariff revenue collected from levies on Chinese goods "has been borne almost entirely" by U.S. importers.

China and the U.S. have been engaged in a trade war for more than a year. In that time, they have targeted billions of dollars worth of goods with high import tariffs. However, "there was almost no change in the (ex-tariff) border prices of imports from China, and a sharp jump in the post-tariff import prices matching the magnitude of the tariff," the study said.

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President Donald Trump claimed on May 8 that the higher levies on Chinese goods are "filling U.S. coffers" to the tune of $100 billion per year. But the IMF said the bilateral trade deficit between China and the U.S. remains "broadly unchanged" even with the tariffs.

Trump has also raised the possibility of raising tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods. This, according to the IMF, could hurt consumers as companies are likely to pass on the additional cost.

"Consumers in the US and China are unequivocally the losers from trade tensions," the IMF report said, adding higher tariffs could also hurt economic growth. "While the impact on global growth is relatively modest at this time, the latest escalation could significantly dent business and financial market sentiment, disrupt global supply chains, and jeopardize the projected recovery in global growth in 2019."

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