China Trade War: What It Means for MD Counties

At midnight on Friday morning, the U.S. commenced a trade war with China: the U.S. levied 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. China immediately released a statement that the U.S. “violated [World Trade Organization] rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date,” and retaliated with equivalent tariffs on $34 billion worth of imported U.S. goods. President Trump has promised “to implement tariffs on an additional $16 billion worth of imported Chinese goods within the month,” according to NPR.

What does this mean for county priorities?

The Trade War and the War on Opioids

It could significantly affect the war on opioids, and particularly fentanyl, according to Kaiser Health News (via Governing). U.S. experts generally consider China responsible for as much as 90 percent of the world’s supply of the dangerous drug, which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and largely responsible for fatal opioid overdoses nationwide. From the article:

Though Chinese officials deny that most of the fentanyl or other opioid substances originate in their country, they have in the past cooperated with U.S. efforts to control the flow of fentanyl onto American soil.

If the tariffs become permanent, though, “it’s most likely going to have a negative effect on other areas” beyond trade, said Jeffrey Higgins, a former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisory special agent. “China could say ‘We are no longer going to cooperate with the United States on controlling these synthetic opioids,’” he continued.

County Landfills Feel The Strain

China’s new restrictions on waste imports are already taking a toll on county landfills and recycling programs. China has instituted a new “foreign waste” policy that essentially bans dozens of materials that can contain dirty or hazardous wastes. The ban includes contamination by food remnants. The ban is expected to affect state and local recycling programs throughout the United States, as China has been the largest importer of recyclable materials.

Solar Struggle

China’s previous announcement of reduced plans for new solar installations could also significantly affect counties’ programs to stimulate increased solar energy generation.

Hope You Like Edamame 

Finally, Maryland’s many farmers will likely also take a hit from the China trade war. Soybeans are an obvious example. Approximately 500,000 acres in Maryland are used to grow soybeans. In 2017, the U.S. exported more soybeans than any other agricultural product – and China bought nearly 60 percent of the American edamame. Guess what China will likely source from Brazil now? Soybeans.

Read more:

Governing: What a U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean for the Opioid Epidemic

NBC News: In Trump’s trade war, China takes aim at vulnerable counties

Bloomberg: Why Soybeans Are at the Heart of the U.S.-China Trade War

Maryland Agricultural Statistics

Duluth News Tribune: Cities scramble to rewrite rules on recycling after China restricts ‘foreign garbage’