Just when it seemed like the trade war between the U.S. and China might be calming down, the dispute flared up again in a hurry. First President Trump said he would levy another 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of imported Chinese goods, that on top of the 25 percent tariff on another $250 billion worth of Chinese products.
Then just a few days later, the U.S. Department of Treasury designated China as a "currency manipulator," claiming the nation took steps to devalue the yuan as a way to gain an unfair advantage in international trade.
The latest barbs come roughly three months after the U.S. and China reached an apparent trade deal, but now President Trump is accusing China of going back on promises he said were made. And the impact of the ongoing trade war has far reaching effects, not just in China and the U.S. but across the globe. IHS Markit analysts estimate the battle has held down worldwide GDP by 0.2 to 0.3 percent.
The tire, rubber and related industries are feeling repercussions from the trade war, but perspectives on the tariffs may differ depending on a company's place along the supply chain.
Many groups that normally support GOP positions have been steadfast in opposition to the tariffs. They emphasize that industries such as automotive are interconnected in such a way that materials and parts from China are important cogs for vehicles assembled in the U.S.
Domestic producers of tires, auto parts and polymers might theoretically benefit from the tariffs, but often they don't have the capacity or the inclination to take up the slack in production left by low-priced Chinese goods.
Others, though, support tariffs as a way to protect U.S. production. Some domestic tooling makers and producers of rubber goods say low-cost imports have cut deeply into their business over the years. And retreaders fear competition from low-priced imports of new Chinese tires, and want the tariffs to narrow the price gap.
In the end, consumers are ones typically hurt most, because importers will have no choice but to raise prices on their goods. In many cases, such as footwear, there are few, if any, alternatives to Chinese products.