A report by consulting firm Kearney found that US’ trade war against China hasn’t achieved the key objective of reversing America’s decline in manufacturing. Jobs haven’t returned to the US, it said.

Statistics showed that tariffs did succeed in reducing the trade deficit with China in 2019. However, the overall US trade imbalance was bigger than ever and has continued climbing, soaring to a record $84 billion in August as US importers shifted to cheaper sources of goods from Vietnam, Mexico and other countries. 

The trade deficit with China has risen more due to the pandemic, and is currently back to where it was at the start of the Trump administration.

“The move by the US administration to impose a 25 percent tariff on selected goods from China disrupted the global supply chain and slowed the growth of the world’s largest manufacturing site, intensifying the relationship between these top economic superpowers,” said the report.

The goal of bringing back US factory production has also not been achieved. Job growth in manufacturing started to slow in July 2018, and manufacturing production peaked in December 2018. 

By early 2020, even before the pandemic reached the United States, manufacturing job development had stalled out, with factories cutting staff.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s trade advisers argue the tariffs succeeded in forcing Beijing to a phase one trade deal, with the Chinese government having agreed to buy more US goods. They also say that tariffs, which remain on about $370 billion in Chinese goods annually, will over time force China to end unfair practices and help rebuild the US manufacturing base.

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