US-China trade war 'hurting both countries': UN

Representative image. (Reuters photo)

The ongoing trade war between the United States and China is harming both economies, the UN said on Tuesday, with a sharp drop in exports and higher prices for consumers.

In a fresh report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) examined the repercussions of bruising tariff hikes imposed by the world's two largest economies and found that both were left considerably worse off.

That, in turn, risks taking a toll on the entire global economy, the agency cautioned.

"A lose-lose trade war is not only harming the main contenders, it also compromises the stability of the global economy and future growth," head of UNCTAD's international trade and commodities division Pamela Coke Hamilton said in a statement.

The US-China trade war has since last year seen tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods.

The UNCTAD analysis, which only looked at the impact of the US tariffs, found they had caused a 25-percent decline in US imports of sanctioned Chinese products in the first half of 2019 alone.

"The United States tariffs on China are economically hurting both countries," the report concluded.

UNCTAD economist Alessandro Nicita told reporters in Geneva that during the initial phase of the conflict, "most of the costs of the tariffs have been passed down to US consumers or firms." But he said that Chinese exporters were also increasingly lowering the prices of goods subjected to tariffs in what appeared to be a bid to maintain their US market share.

While the report did not consider the impact of Chinese tariffs on US imports, it stressed that "the qualitative results are most likely to be analogous: higher prices for Chinese consumers and losses for United States exporters."

Not everyone is losing out, however.

The report, which was based on an analysis of recently released trade statistics, found that of the USD 35 billion lost in Chinese exports to the US market in the first half of the year, about USD 21 billion had been diverted to others like Taiwan, Mexico, and the European Union.

The remaining USD 14 billion, it said, was either lost of captured by US producers. 

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