Fifty states, fifty stories of trade relations with China. What distinguishes these stories from the national narrative, which is increasingly marked by wariness and even hostility toward China, is a pragmatic desire to keep trade flowing, preferably growing, while the federal government figures out the meaning of terms like “strategic competitors.”
States are the terrain where rubber meets the road when it comes to trade policy. Get the trade policy right, and state economies benefit. Getting it wrong means job and tax revenue losses. For example, according to a recent study commissioned by US-China Business Council, trade with China supports 1.9 million US jobs. In 2018, the most recent year data are available, there were at least 200,000 fewer US jobs because of the trade conflict with China. Government officials and businesspeople are left to wonder: Will trade continue to shrink into a shadow of its former self, or will it somehow expand to new heights in the years to come?