Investing.com - In slapping a 25% tariff on U.S. soybeans, Beijing is hitting one of the United States biggest exporter industries and one highly reliant on the Chinese market. Soybeans represent 40% of the $34 billion in exports affected by the recently imposed tariffs.China is far the largest importer of U.S. soybeans. In 2017, it absorbed 60% of the $21.6 billion in soybeans sent abroad.China has been an important growth market for U.S. producers. Exports have surged from $414 million in 1996 to $12 billion in 2017.In recent years, however, the U.S. has lost market share to Brazil, which is by far the No 1 supplier. Nevertheless, a Purdue University study estimates the tariff could reduce U.S. soybean exports to China by 65%.The American Soybean Association says the tariff will mean "serous damage to U.S. farmers."