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Industry Outlook

Foreign trade is more sensitive than most business fields to political decisions. The future is uncertain and will remain so until the outcome of President Donald Trump's actions on trade policy become clearer. Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017, as part of his promise to bring jobs and manufacturing back to the United States. He also renegotiated NAFTA and other trade pacts and imposed 10 percent aluminum tariffs and 25 percent steel tariffs in 2018, which benefited domestic steel mills but caused input costs to rise for other manufacturers. In 2020, the United States remained embroiled in a trade war with China in which U.S. tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods had been met with retaliatory tariffs. In addition to the average American consumer, those affected by the trade war included U.S. soybean farmers and pork producers. The two nations had reached a phase one trade agreement, which eased some of the negative effects, but the long-term outcome of negotiations remained unknown. As of March 2021, the U.S. and China trade war continued. To date, the Biden administration has made no changes to the tariff structures and is reportedly reviewing the phase one trade agreement, according to a report by The Diplomat.

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