Record goods trade in Georgia could have been even more impactful without tariffs, according to a lobbying group. Photo: The Garden City Terminal of the Georgia Ports Authority near Savannah, Ga. (Georgia Ports Authority/Stephen B. Morton)

Just a week after Georgia posted record trade numbers, an anti-tariff lobbying group has issued a report of its own suggesting that the economic boost could be offset by higher prices due to taxes on imports and exports. 

In December alone, companies importing through Georgia paid $182 million in tariffs on goods subject to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, according to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a group formed to oppose levies it argues hearts the very producers and manufacturers the president appealed to during the election. 

Overall, companies importing through Georgia have had to pay $578 million in additional tariffs since they were imposed. 

Tariffs on products like imported steel and aluminum or food are sometimes passed on to consumers, though some companies are taking hits to their bottom lines rather than raise prices in order to keep their customers. The impact of tariffs on market share, especially in commodities like soybeans, is often cited as a greater threat than the short-term financial losses.   

The tariffs are biting on both sides, according to the report, as retaliatory levies are hitting Georgia’s exports. In December, Georgia’s exports of products subject to tariffs from its trading partners fell 37 percent compared to the previous year. During the trade war, Georgia products going into other markets have faced $114 million in retaliatory tariffs. 

Proponents of the president’s approach say that the pain in the short-term is necessary given the long-term objective of leveling the playing field for U.S. products abroad and evening out the trade balance with partners like China

Some, like former Georgia governor and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, call the retaliation by China and Europe “unjustified.” The federal government has made more than $12 billion in loans, insurance guarantees and other incentives available to farmers to offset their losses due to trade. 

Local growers and importers shared their concerns at a Tariffs Hurt the Heartland town hall meeting in Georgia in December. 

Learn more about the event in this WABE story, or find out about the group’s campaign against the trade war here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...