How the (Soybean) Trade War Was Won

By the rest-of-the-world, i.e., countries that China did not retaliate against. Thanks, Trump!

See also Carter and Steinbach (2020).

Our reduced-form regression results indicate large and statistically significant trade effects of retaliatory tariff increases for the United States and non-retaliatory countries. The identification is robust to pre-existing trends and anticipatory effects and reveals substantial heterogeneity between products and trading partners. We find that the United States lost more than USD 15.6 billion in trade with retaliatory countries. Soybeans, pork products, and coarse grains recorded the most substantial trade destruction effects. These losses are only partially compensated by additional exports to non-retaliatory countries. At the same time, non-retaliatory countries were able to considerably expand their trade with retaliatory countries. The analysis shows that these countries gained USD 13.5 billion in additional trade with retaliatory countries. The trade diversion effects are dominated
by increasing exports of soybeans and pork products. The primary beneficiaries of retaliatory tariff increases are countries from South America such as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Retaliatory countries also increased their imports from Eastern Europe and the EU. These results indicate that the 2018 trade war had substantial redistribution effects for global agricultural and food trade.

13 thoughts on “How the (Soybean) Trade War Was Won

  1. pgl

    “The primary beneficiaries of retaliatory tariff increases are countries from South America such as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.”

    Maybe there is someone smart enough on the Trump team that could turn this into a reason for Hispanics to vote for Trump. Make Latin America Great Again.

    1. B.A.Badger

      Bush (41) expressly tried to achieve the make Americas great program. He started the Inter-American initiative. He supported the IADB. He supported the OAS. It was working for a while. I got a lot of clients from Argentina and Uruguay,and a couple from Chile, who wanted to do business with U.S. companies. Bush lost. Initiative died. Argentina reverted to nationalizing businesses. Uruguay and the US made it harder to export/import wine. Autocrats abound again.

      1. B.A.Badger

        Before anyone gets excited, no I do not blame Clinton. I just enjoyed the time when the USA was making nice with the folks in the south.

        1. macroduck

          Bush was among a few recent presidents who made improved relations with other America states a foreign policy goal early in his presidency. What generally happens is that other foreign policy issues distract from the Americas and the focus fades. That’s probably why presidents keep having to say they will focus on the Americas.

    1. Jill

      Regarding your post dated February 10, 2020 (sorry I couldn’t find a way to reply to the post or email you directly.)

      I no longer work at the Mountain Messenger newspaper. However, I did not leave a post at about my name being removed from the newspaper’s masthead.
      I was rather surprised to read the comments to the New York Times story saying my panties were twisted over that. How silly, on many levels.

      Tim Arango did a wonderful job with the story, eh?

      Take care!

      Jill Tahija

  2. Julian Silk

    I hope it will be acceptable to add one comment on motivation here, though the Trump campaign will certainly do this as well. It struck me in 2016 that Chinese purchases of certain items or businesses were not reported more fully. Soybeans were not (and still are not) an iconic item to many American blue-collar consumers. But ham and meat are, and the sale of Smithfield Hams to the Chinese in 2013 never got significant attention. With the virus, interest has picked up, as in

    At the Eastern Economics Association meetings, there was no real interest or concern about coal. It was just a passe fuel, destined to be eliminated, and who really cared about the loss of a few mining jobs? This understated coal’s importance in Appalachia, and in the American West. It was no surprise that Hillary Clinton lost West Virginia, and Appalachia, as a working-class region, may be a tough sell for Joe Biden as well.

    The Trump campaign can point to coal prices. According to Trading Economics, coal prices are, still, despite the virus, above the trough level of 2016. See

    and look at the 10-year graph, which displays this most fully.

    So this sort of appeal to agricultural and mining and industrial families, blue-collar in tone (with muscular workers walking off the job in the campaign commercials) may still be relevant to what this Administration is trying to do, and to how it will be presented in the campaign in 2020.

    1. Barkley Rosser


      I agree that the coal issue hurts Dems in major coal producing areas, although I think the only state where that really seals it is WVa, which is Trump’s second most solid state after OK. It may be a factor in why Trump seems to have an edge in OH also, although that is a lot closer. It helps him in PA and VA as well, although I suspect not enough to put him over, although PA is of course going to be very close and very crucial. Those western states where coal is important, like WY, are solid Trump anyway.

      1. Barkley Rosser

        BTW, as of the 1988 electino, WVa was still one of the most solid Dem states, being one of the only 8 that went for pathetic Dukakis, but it did, and handily.

  3. pgl

    Bruce Hall’s promotion of that snake oil may be killing people:

    A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not. People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded. The study, published Friday in the medical journal the Lancet, is the largest analysis to date of the risks and benefits of treating covid-19 patients with antimalarial drugs. It is based on a retrospective analysis of medical records, not a controlled study in which patients are divided randomly into treatment groups — a method considered the gold standard of medicine. But the sheer size of the study was convincing to some scientists. “It’s one thing not to have benefit, but this shows distinct harm,” said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If there was ever hope for this drug, this is the death of it.”

    Trump has been taking hydroxychloroquine or at least that is what he says. Could this be the death of him?

    1. baffling

      i am not one to tell trump or bruce hall not to take hydroxychloroquine. by all means, both of you can take it till the cows come home. just quit telling other people to take it. same goes for sammy the schmuk. i am not telling him he cannot go out and party, drink at the bar and bring home some ladyfriend to spread coronavirus and perhaps other viruses. just quit telling others they need to go out and spread the disease. you can’t stop stoopid, but you can certainly silence it.

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