Trump’s trade war with China could hurt Nebraska’s economy

The trade war between the United State and China has officially launched as both countries have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs. A prolonged trade war could have major economic consequences for Nebraska.


President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to the U.S. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria

In response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s 25% tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods, China’s Ministry of Commerce this month announced 25% tariffs of equal size on certain U.S. exports to China.

While Trump’s tariffs mostly target industrial and tech goods, China is focusing heavily on increased tariffs on agricultural products from the U.S. — a move that is likely to not only cause pain to Trump’s political supporters but leave US farmers with fewer options to divert their crops.

Nebraska farmers and ranchers, in particular, could suffer given the state’s heavy reliance on agricultural exports to China. China is Nebraska’s number 1 export market. It’s also the number 1 export market for 22 other American states.


Source: Business Insider

According to the most recent reporting figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • $1.43-billion in Nebraska agricultural exports were sold to China in 2016
  • China comprised 22% of Nebraska’s agricultural export market  
  • 57% of Nebraska beef exports were sold to China
  • 52% of Nebraska soybean and soybean products and 79% of the state’s sorghum crop was exported to China  

The chart below lists Nebraska agricultural exports to China.


The chart below lists primary Nebraska agricultural exports China has increased its tariffs against.


If the tariff war drags on, state services to Nebraska residents would suffer too as a potential $250 million drop in agricultural export income could cause a multi-million dollar decline in state tax revenues. The political irony is that Nebraska overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, the architect, and instigator of the current trade war with China,  in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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