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One measure shows Americans have paid an extra $34 billion in tariffs since the start of the trade war with China

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/9/2019 Gina Heeb
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Scott Olson/Getty Images

As President Donald Trump escalated a trade dispute with China over the past year and a half, Americans shelled out tens of billions of dollars in tariffs.

Businesses and consumers in the US have paid an additional $34 billion in tariffs from the time the trade war started in February of last year through August 2019, according to the free-trade advocacy groups Tariffs Hurt the Heartland and the Trade Partnership.

"Business leaders and economists across the country agree the trade war is seriously damaging our economy, killing American jobs and making goods more expensive for American families and small businesses," said Jonathan Gold, a spokesperson for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.

While the White House has often asserted foreign exporters pay tariffs, study after study has shown costs largely fall on business and consumers.

In August alone, the groups estimated Americans paid $6.5 billion in tariffs. The 48% increase from the same month last year was largely driven by tariffs implemented by the Trump administration, the group said, which accounted for $3.4 billion.

That figure was slightly lower than the one reported by the government. In its latest budget statement, the Treasury Department said the US collected roughly $7 billion in customs duties that month.

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Dan Anthony, the vice president of the Trade Partnership, said tariff figures can vary because they are recorded by multiple departments and subject to revisions.

"The Tariff Tracker uses Census' calculated duties data because they are the only publicly available figures that contain the necessary product and country details for analyzing sector trends, state breakdowns, etc.," Anthony said.

Tariff collections are expected to increase in the coming months as the Trump administration attempts to pressure China to change trade practices perceived as unfair. On October 15, the two sides are expected to increase the tariff rates on thousands of products.

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