Though it should only affect a small percentage of the market

By Tim Nelson
Updated March 23, 2018
Credit: banedeki/Getty Images

This week, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced its intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on pork imported from the US. That would make it more expensive to enjoy bacon, pork belly, and other choice dishes from American-raised hogs.

The gesture is largely symbolic, however. According to data cited by Bloomberg, American pork producers only shipped 165,736 metric tons to China in 2017. That represents roughly 13 percent of the country’s imports and a miniscule 0.3 percent of overall consumption.

With an increase in China’s domestic large-scale pork production that’s driven prices to their lowest point in four years, such a tariff would all but ensure the end of American imports if implemented. An importer in eastern China who spoke with Reuters all but confirmed that fact: “With those tariffs, we wouldn’t import U.S. pork. We would just import from Germany and Denmark.”

That’s not all, though. The Ministry of Commerce also called for a 15 percent tariff on US fruit, nuts, wine, and ethanol. Those products currently represent another $1 billion in trade between the two countries currently being driven apart.

Luckily for the small percentage of Chinese consumers and American exporters who might be affected, such measures would only be implemented "if China and the United States fail to reach a trade compensation agreement within the stipulated time," though the Ministry of Commerce did not stipulate a timetable for such an action.

For the average American consumer, there’s no cause for concern yet. I guess we can all be glad that Trump’s infamous daily McDonald’s order doesn’t contain any pork products.