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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. tariffs on around $200 billion in Chinese imports are set to jump to 25% on Jan. 1, up from the 10% implemented last month. That works out to around $30 billion in new taxes to be paid by U.S. importers, many of whom will pass at least some of the costs on to U.S. consumers.

Be smart: Economics differ on the degree to which increased tariffs will affect things like GDP, corporate earnings, and inflation, but few of the predictions are broadly cataclysmic.

The bigger wildcard is how China will respond. Trump, buoyed by his self-described trade successes with Canada and Mexico, is unlikely to back down before January.

  • If Republicans continue to run Congress, Trump will maintain free reign on trade, even if it violates traditional GOP orthodoxy.
  • If Democrats gain power, trade may be one area where they largely agree with the White House.

China cannot simply apply 25% tariffs to an equal amount of U.S. imports, because they don't total $200 billion. Other possible options (and, no, this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Devalue the yuan, thus turning them into the currency manipulator Trump already says they are.
  • Severely restrict Chinese tourism to the U.S., which generated $33 billion in 2016.
  • Sell down its trillion dollar-plus stockpile of U.S. Treasury bills, or stop buying new ones. Either one could possibly increase U.S. government borrowing costs.
  • Make it much more difficult for U.S. businesses to operate in China, well beyond current concerns about IP theft and requirements that U.S. tech companies form joint ventures with local partners.

The bottom line: Trump has made America’s policy known. China’s response will determine if this becomes a full-blown trade war.

Sign up for my daily deals newsletter Axios Pro Rata here and Felix Salmon's weekly business lookahead Axios Edge here.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

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