USTR Deputy Secretary for US-China Trade, China Tariffs

Flags of China and the United States hang from a fence at an international school in Beijing on December 6, 2018. (Photo by Fred DUFOUR/AFP) (Photo by FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

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Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told Reuters the US was taking an analytical approach to looking at whether tariffs should be maintained on Chinese goods and would not be based on results. on any “breakthrough” in US-China trade relations.

Bianchi said in an interview on Saturday as the ministerial meeting of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework talks concluded.

“We are conducting the review from an analytical perspective,” Bianchi said. “We are not basing any breakthrough on the trade relationship” with China as part of the assessment. “We don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Instead, USTR is continuing to study industry and stakeholder input on the obligation, consulting with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Treasury, and other agencies to determine its identity. Which items have strategic significance, she said.

Bianchi, who oversees USTR engagement in Asia, added: “We’re looking at what makes economic sense.

Former US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs in 2018 and 2019 on thousands of items imported from China worth about $370 billion at the time, after a “Section 301” investigation found China has appropriated US intellectual property and forced US companies to transfer sensitive technology for business.

Current tariffs range from 7.5% on many consumer goods to 25% on vehicles, industrial components, semiconductors and other electronic devices. Among the main tax-escape categories are mobile phones, laptops and video game consoles.

The review was required by Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 four years after the tariffs were first imposed and it began with initial notice steps in May 2022. Bianchi declined to say. when the review will be completed, but added that this is “reasonable”. ” by the end of 2023.

Tariff exclusions for 352 categories of imports from China were extended by the USTR at the end of 2022 for another nine months and are now set to expire on September 30. Some trade experts in Washington consider the date the date. it is a potentially decisive moment in the tariff review process.

inflation argument

When the review process was conducted last May, some Biden administration officials argued in favor of lifting some tariffs as the Biden administration struggled to contain high inflation.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the removal of “non-strategic” tariffs would reduce costs on specific goods, while Trade Representative Katherine Tai argued that the duties represented “a powerful blow”. significant leverage” over China.

Bianchi noted that inflation-related discussions about tariffs have eased as inflation eases.

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao raised objections to the Section 301 tariffs as a matter of concern during his meeting with Tai in Detroit on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation trade meeting.

Mr. Wang’s meeting with Commerce Minister Tai and Commerce Minister Gina Raimondo a day earlier was the first cabinet-level exchange between Washington and Beijing in months amid a series of trade and security setbacks. countries, including the U.S. shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon over the continental United States.

Bianchi said it is important for the global economy that the US and China maintain a healthy dialogue, even if they disagree.

“These are the two largest economies in the world and we need to talk at different levels, even if it’s tough conversations,” she said.

She said of the US and China: “On trade right now, there are not many similar views. “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.”


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