The Biden administration is reviewing tariffs imposed on imported goods from China to determine whether some or all of the tariffs should be lifted.
Former President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on thousands of Chinese goods in 2018 and 2019 in response to an investigation that found China was violating U.S. intellectual property laws and coercing American companies into transferring sensitive technology to Chinese firms as a condition of gaining access to China’s market.
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is reviewing the tariffs, which were imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, due to a requirement in the law that requires a review to occur four years after tariffs are imposed.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi, who oversees the USTR’s engagement with Asia, told Reuters, “We are conducting the review from an analytical perspective. We’re not base-casing any breakthrough in the trade relationship” with China as part of the review.
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Bianchi didn’t offer a specific timeline for the completion of the tariff review but indicated it was “reasonable” to complete it by the end of 2023. The expiration of tariff exclusions on 352 import categories from China at the end of September could serve as a decision point in the tariff review process.
The duties imposed in 2018 and 2019 were valued at roughly $370 billion at the time. The tariffs, which are taxes on imported products, ranged from 7.5% on some consumer goods to 25% on vehicles, industrial components, semiconductors and other electronics. Several categories were excluded from the tariffs, including cellphones, laptop computers and videogame consoles.
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The Biden administration’s tariff review comes as inflation remains persistently high – although it has eased since the review began over a year ago. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had said that eliminating “non-strategic” tariffs would help bring costs for certain goods down to ease the strain on consumers, whereas Trade Representative Katherine Tai contended that the tariffs give the U.S. “significant leverage” over China.
Bianchi told Reuters that inflation-related discussions about the tariffs have eased as inflation has eased. She also emphasized the need for the U.S. and China to have healthy discussions even on issues where there is disagreement.
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“These are the two largest economies in the world and we need to be talking at different levels, even if they’re difficult conversations,” Bianchi said.
“On trade right now, there aren’t many similar perspectives. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I think the conversations will continue to be difficult, but I think it’s important that we have them,” she added.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated in recent months after a Chinese spy balloon was detected and eventually shot down after transiting the U.S. near several military installations.
China also escalated tensions over Taiwan, a self-governing democracy it regards as a rogue province, following Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the U.S. to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers.
Reuters contributed to this article.
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