Escalating U.S.-China trade war would hit manufacturing, agricultural jobs: IMF

FILE PHOTO: A participant stands near a logo of IMF at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An escalation of the U.S.-China trade war would drive manufacturing away from both countries and likely cause job losses, but would not change their total trade balances, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report showed on Wednesday.

The United States and China would see “sizable” losses in manufacturing as capacity moves toward Mexico, Canada, and East Asia if tariffs were hiked to 25 percent on all goods flowing between the two countries, the IMF said in its April World Economic Outlook.

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That would escalate a tit-for-tat tariff battle between the two economic giants that has gripped global financial markets since mid-2018. The United States already has tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and levies of 10 percent on another $200 billion. China has retaliated with duties on U.S. products, including key agricultural crops.

The countries have been trying to negotiate a deal to end the spat. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to resume talks with Chinese vice premier, Liu He, on Wednesday, just days after the two sides reported progress in talks last week in Beijing.

The electronics and other manufacturing sectors in China would be hard-hit and the U.S. agricultural sector would see a significant contraction if the trade war were to escalate, the IMF report showed.

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