Billions in Chinese imports were hit with tariffs that are often passed on to consumers.

The United States and China may have announced the start of a deal that could end a years-long trade war started by President Trump, but that won’t undo the economic damage already inflicted throughout the country.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the U.S.-China trade war has hurt both countries’ economies. And although tariffs on foreign goods are meant to protect domestic production and keep jobs stateside, the cost of the U.S.-China trade war has generally been passed straight down to American consumers, according to experts.  

We see this in states like New Jersey, for example, which imported more than $18 billion worth goods from China in 2018, making it the state’s largest import partner. When President Trump started the trade war in 2018, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) said the tariffs risked $1 billion in New Jersey exports. Just this week, Rep. Malinowski testified that the trade war had indeed hurt his district, and specifically, farmers.

“This Administration’s habit of starting trade wars without the allies we need to win them or strategy for winning them is putting many of America’s farmers at risk, including the soybean growers in my district who have seen the China market dry up as a result of the President’s ‘shoot first, aim later’ approach,” Malinowski told the House Agriculture Committee.

The tit-for-tat trade confrontation began with the U.S imposing tariffs on certain products like steel, aluminum and washing machines. Over the summer of 2018, the U.S. and China went back and forth raising tariffs on imports from the opposing country. 

Bob Considine, the head of communications for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, explained that a 2018 poll of New Jersey businesses revealed a mixed response to the new tariffs. 

“When asked if tariffs on certain products from China were negatively impacting their bottom line 41% [of businesses] said yes and another 22% said they will affect their bottom line if the tariffs continue,” he said in an interview with the Courier Newsroom. 

Considine added that 64% of businesses who were hurt by tariffs also said they would be willing to or already are raising their prices to counter their increased production costs.

“The tariffs for us have been a nightmare,” Gary DuBoff, who serves as the CEO of Arrow Fastener Company, said at a meeting of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus in 2018.

He explained that the materials his company needs are no longer made in the United States, so he turned to Chinese imports.