During the Trump administration, Washington slapped tariffs on Chinese imports due to Beijing’s unfair trade practices. The Biden administration’s U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the administration intends to maintain the Trump tariffs, at least for now. However, the government is being pressured by some American businesses and trading groups to remove the tariffs.
Tai said that “yanking off” tariffs too soon can cause harm to the American economy as businesses won’t have the time to plan out their strategies and investments properly. Changes must be communicated in a way that relevant actors in the economy “can make adjustments.” She also believes that import tariffs give Washington leverage when negotiating with Beijing.
During her Senate confirmation hearing in late February, Tai said she would aggressively pursue fair trade policies with Beijing.
“China is simultaneously a rival, a trade partner, and an outsized player whose cooperation we’ll also need to address certain global challenges… We must… impart the values and rules that guide global commerce—and we must enforce those terms vigorously,” Tai said at the hearing. She also promised to enforce the 2020 U.S.-China trade deal agreed upon during the Trump administration.
The trade deal mandates that communist China implement stricter steps to protect U.S. intellectual property and increase American goods’ purchase. China must buy $200 billion worth of U.S. goods over two years. However, Beijing is far behind its financial commitment. The pandemic originating in communist China is why communist China likely will not fulfill its obligations.
The Trump administration placed tariffs on $370 billion worth of Chinese goods. With Trump’s exit, Beijing had hoped that Biden would be a better friend to the communist regime and ease the tariffs. But Tai and several Biden officials have taken an ambiguously aggressive stance, characterizing communist China as both a competitor and a threat.
While speaking to reporters recently, Biden skirted over the question of whether he will continue Trump’s tariffs on communist China. However, Biden did say that he wants to make sure that China plays by the international rules regarding trade, fair competition, and human rights.
The president said that he foresees stiff competition from China and that Beijing has the ambition to become the wealthiest, most powerful, and most decisive leader globally. Biden promised it was “not going to happen on my watch.”
Tariffs one of ‘all available tools’
In early March, the U.S. administration had published its trade agenda, promising that it will use “all available tools” to fight communist China’s unfair trade policies. The report highlighted Chinese practices like forced labor programs, unfair subsidies, and barriers to restrict market access as detrimental practices. It also promised that the U.S. government would cooperate with allies and partners to ensure that communist China remains committed to its trade obligations.
“Addressing the China challenge will require a comprehensive strategy and more systematic approach than the piecemeal approach of the recent past… The Biden Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. trade policy toward China as part of its development of its overall China strategy,” the report said.