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October Was the Highest Tariffed Month in US History, New Data Shows

Anxiety over tariffs may be on pause amid the 90-day trade truce between the U.S. and China, but already in place tariffs haven’t abated when it comes to doing damage to businesses’ bottom lines.

U.S. companies paid a total of $6.2 billion in tariffs in October—$2.8 billion of which was a result of new Trump Administration-induced tariffs, according to industry coalition Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, which drew on U.S. Census statistics for the info. That’s the highest monthly amount paid in tariffs in U.S. history, and double what businesses paid in October 2017.

And what perhaps draws the most ire, is that the tariffs aren’t working as the U.S. president intended. The impact, rather, appears to be largely adverse for the U.S. economy.

“Data shows that tariffs have failed to achieve any stated Administration goals: U.S. imports subject to new tariffs declined by just 0.6% in October, while U.S. exports subject to retaliation fell 37 percent,” Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said in a statement Friday, adding that businesses are still importing goods but paying higher taxes, and exports are falling while the trade deficit grows.

After a meeting last week during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work toward more common ground on trade over the next 90 days, during which no new tariffs will be added and no existing tariffs will be increased.

However, in tweets on Tuesday, Trump said the negotiations have already begun with China and that both nations are working toward a deal. If that deal doesn’t come to fruition, however, Trump’s reminder to the world, via Twitter, was: “I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”

The tone, which came in seeming contrast to what at first sounded like a truce, served to further fuel already rampant uncertainty. But what remains clear, is the current costs to U.S. companies.

“We are now seeing the raw data behind the stories of tariff pain that are coming in from every corner of the country,” Boustany said. “American businesses, farmers, manufacturers and consumers are suffering under the weight of the current tariffs and are reeling from the continued uncertainty over whether they will be increased even further.”