Vaseline is the forgotten victim of the U.S.-China trade war
Though soybeans and bourbon have dominated the spotlight as the losers in President Trump’s trade war with China, here at The Outline, we would like to offer a moment of silence for a less-publicized victim: Vaseline.
The beloved moisturizer and squirrel deterrent is included on China’s recently announced list of tariffs on U.S. products, which were rolled out on Friday. Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly, and each year, the U.S. exports around $49 million of petroleum jelly across the world, including $1,934,938 to China, according to the freight company Flexport.
Tariffs are coming at a high cost for other industries. U.S. soybean prices, for instance, are dropping dramatically, and Bloomberg noted that the industry might lose as much as $4.5 billion because of the new tariffs. To avoid some of these losses, one U.S. soybean ship made a valiant — but tragically failed — attempt to reach China before tariffs went into effect on Friday.
It’s not clear whether Unilever, the company that produces Vaseline, is concerned about similar outcomes. When The Outline reached out, a spokesperson declined to comment.
But vaseline isn’t the only little-noticed U.S. product to get caught up in the crossfire. China has also placed tariffs on snails, even though there are only two or three snail farms in the U.S. and, according to two farmers who The Outline contacted, none actually exports to China. “Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me,” Taylor Knapp of New York’s snail farm Peconic Escargot said. But with snail mucin trending up in the skincare world, now the U.S. will surely miss out.