By David Lawder
DETROIT (Reuters) – The United States is taking an analytical approach in its review of whether to keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place and will not base the results on a “breakthrough” in U.S.-China trade relations said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Reuters.
The Biden administration does not assume such a breakthrough will happen, but will continue dialogue with China at various levels, Bianchi said in an interview on Saturday at the end of a ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework talks. led by the United States.
“We are conducting the review from an analytical perspective. We do not anticipate any breakthroughs in trade relations” with China under the review, Bianchi said. “We don’t assume that will happen.”
Instead, the USTR continues to study industry and stakeholder feedback on the assignments by consulting with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Treasury and other agencies to determine which categories make strategic sense, a she declared.
“We look at what is economically sound,” added Bianchi, who oversees USTR’s engagement in Asia.
Former US President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs in 2018 and 2019 on thousands of imports from China valued at some $370 billion at the time, after a ‘Section 301’ investigation found that China was misappropriating American intellectual property and forcing American companies to transfer sensitive technologies. to do business.
Duties currently range from 7.5% on many consumer goods to 25% on vehicles, industrial components, semiconductors and other electronic devices. Among the main categories that have escaped tariffs are mobile phones, laptops and video game consoles.
The review was required by Section 301 of the Commerce Act of 1974 four years after the tariffs were first imposed and it began with the first stages of notification in May 2022. Bianchi declined to say when the review would be finished, but added that it was “reasonable”. “by the end of 2023.
Tariff exclusions on 352 categories of imports from China were extended by the USTR at the end of 2022 for another nine months and are now due to expire on September 30. Some trade experts in Washington see this date as a possible decision point in the tariff review.
ARGUMENTS ON INFLATION
As the review began last May, some Biden administration officials spoke out in favor of waiving some of the tariffs as the Biden administration struggled to contain high inflation.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said eliminating “non-strategic” tariffs would reduce the costs of specific goods, while Trade Representative Katherine Tai argued that the duties represent a “leverage effect important” on China.
Bianchi noted that inflation-related talk of fares died down as inflation eased.
China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao raised objections to Section 301 tariffs as a matter of concern during a meeting with Tai in Detroit on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade meeting.
Wang’s meeting with Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo the day before was the first cabinet-level exchanges between Washington and Beijing in months amid a series of trade and national security setbacks, including the US slaughter. of a Chinese spy balloon that transited the American continent.
Bianchi said it’s important for the global economy that the United States and China maintain a healthy dialogue, even if they don’t agree.
“These are the two biggest economies in the world and we have to talk on different levels, even if they are difficult conversations,” she said.
“On trade right now, there’s not a lot of similar outlook,” she said of the US and China. “I don’t know where this will lead, but I think the conversations will continue to be difficult, but I think it’s important that we have them.”
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kim Coghill)