Trump’s Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide

Chad P. Bown (PIIE) and Melina Kolb (PIIE)

May 17, 2021 12:45 PM
Image credit: 
PIIE/Daniel Housch

This post, originally published on April 19, 2018, will be updated as trade disputes with China and other countries evolve. Special thanks to Oliver Ward and Susann Luetjen for assisting with production.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump started a trade war with the world involving multiple battles with China as well as American allies. Each battle has used a particular US legal rationale, such as calling foreign imports a national security threat, followed by Trump imposing tariffs and/or quotas on imports. Subsequent retaliation by trading partners and the prospect of further escalation risked significantly hampering trade and investment, and possibly the global economy. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. must now determine whether to keep US tariffs and other trade barriers in place or adjust policies in the wake of changing conditions, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The timelines below track the development of the most pressing trade conflicts with links to the latest available data and PIIE analysis. 

BATTLE #1: SOLAR PANEL AND WASHING MACHINE IMPORTS INJURE US INDUSTRIES

BATTLE #2: STEEL AND ALUMINUM AS NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS

BATTLE #3: UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES FOR TECHNOLOGY, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP)

BATTLE #4: AUTOS AS NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT

Battle #5: Illegal Immigration from Mexico

BATTLE #6: SAFEGUARDING US SEMICONDUCTOR SUPREMACY