The US is not ready to lift tariffs on China any time soon, President Biden’s newly-confirmed trade representative has announced.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal Sunday in her first interview since being confirmed earlier this month, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai expressed some willingness to engaging in trade negotiations with Beijing, noting the damage tariffs can cause domestically, but also cautioned against lifting them abruptly.
“I have heard people say, ‘Please just take these tariffs off,’” she told the paper, warning that “yanking off tariffs” could harm the economy unless the change is “communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments.”
“Whether they are companies, traders, manufacturers or their workers,” Tai continued, having “the ability to plan” for changes that affect their future is paramount to consider.
Tai also recognized the increased influence the tariffs brought the US when coming to the negotiating table with China.
“No negotiator walks away from leverage, right?”
Just prior to taking office, President Biden said he planned to move very carefully and not make any sudden changes on China policy.
Asked about what he would do regarding tariffs former President Donald Trump placed on the Communist-led country, Biden said he would not act immediately to nix them or the phase one trade deal.
“I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs. I’m not going to prejudice my options,” he told the New York Times in December.
“The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our — or at least what used to be our — allies on the same page. It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies,” he explained.
He went on to say that his “goal would be to pursue trade policies that actually produce progress on China’s abusive practices — that’s stealing intellectual property, dumping products, illegal subsidies to corporations” and forcing “tech transfers” from US companies to Chinese counterparts.
Earlier this month, the US came face-to-face with Chinese officials for the first time under President Biden for what turned into an explosive summit.
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan spent their first meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi trading barbs about one another’s countries.
While Blinken criticized China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, Yang said the US was in no position to reprimand Beijing.
“The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” Yang said through a translator at the summit in Anchorage.
Biden told reporters on the White House lawn that he was “very proud” of his top diplomat’s handling of the meeting, during which he sat through an anti-American tirade from top Chinese officials.