How long will it take the US to lose the trade war to China?

Before Trump started the trade war with China, there were several clues that showed that America can't win a trade war against China. These clues include the amount of goods the US imports from China and the structure of the Chinese government.


Goods Exported to the US

The thing that Trump seems to hate the most about China and the US' economic relations is that the US has a trade deficit with China. And Trump is right at pointing out this huge trade deficit, which sat at $376 billion in 2017. However, this trade deficit serves China as an asset to the trade war they currently have with the US. The large amount of goods the US imports from China means that China has far more goods on which they can place tariffs. The US on the other hand doesn't have many goods to place tariffs on. This means the US could just run out of goods to place tariffs on while China could continue to place tariffs on US goods. However, if the US stops placing tariffs on Chinese goods then China will likely stop placing tariffs on the US, in order to stay in accordance with international trade laws.

Structure of the Chinese Government

China is structured very differently from the US. One of the most notable differences is that the United States is a democracy that gives its citizens many avenues to protest and voice their concerns. On the other hand, the Chinese government is more authoritarian and gives citizens less opportunities to protest and voice concerns. While authoritarianism is not a good quality for a government to have, this aspect of China's government helps them in winning a trade war against the US. This is because, in comparison to democracies, authoritarian governments don't have to worry as much about what their citizens think. American politicians however, greatly worry about what their constituents think. This means that when tariffs hurt American citizens, these citizens may choose to complain to their congressional leaders, causing congressional leaders to work towards removing barriers to trade. Not to mention, President Trump's approval rating could also decrease as tariffs continue to cause more pain for Americans, in turn hurting his chances for reelection.

This Trade War won't Last Long

The US will eventually run out of Chinese goods to tax which means that this trade war won't last too long. Also, it is highly likely that once tariffs reach a specific amount both the US and China may decide to stop placing tariffs on each other which could lead to a potential stalemate where each country waits for the other to capitulate. Even in this scenario, where the US and China reach a stalemate, the US will likely cave in before China due to the US' political system. 

Featured Image Source: The Conversation