September 20, 2023

US review of Chinese tariffs will not depend on trade ‘breakthrough’ – deputy USTR

By David Lawder

DETROIT (Reuters) – The United States is taking an analytical approach in its assessment of whether to maintain tariffs on Chinese goods and will not base the results on a “breakthrough” in US-China trade relations, a US deputy told reporters. sales representative Sarah Bianchi. Reuters.

The Biden administration does not expect such a breakthrough to happen but will continue dialogue with China at various levels, Bianchi said in an interview Saturday as a ministerial meeting of the US-led Indo Pacific Economic Framework talks was completed.

“We are conducting the assessment from an analytical perspective. We are not assuming a breakthrough in trade relationship” with China as part of the assessment, Bianchi said. “We don’t expect that to happen.”

Instead, USTR will continue to review industry and stakeholder comments on the tasks, working with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Treasury and other agencies to determine which categories make strategic sense, she said.

“We are looking at what is economically sound,” added Bianchi, who oversees USTR’s involvement in Asia.

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

The duties currently range from 7.5% on many consumer goods to 25% on vehicles, industrial components, semiconductors and other electronics. Among the main categories that escaped tariffs were mobile phones, laptops and video game consoles.

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

Tariff exclusions on 352 import categories from China were extended by USTR for an additional nine months at the end of 2022 and now expire on September 30. Some Washington trading experts view that date as a potential rate review decision point.


When the review began last May, some Biden administration officials advocated lifting some of the tariffs as the Biden administration struggled to contain high inflation.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said removing “non-strategic” tariffs would reduce costs for specific commodities, while Trade Representative Katherine Tai argued the duties represent “significant leverage” on China.

Bianchi noted that inflation-related discussions of rates have died down as inflation has eased.

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao raised objections to the Section 301 tariffs as a 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 marked the first cabinet-level exchanges between Washington and Beijing in months amid a series of trade and national security setbacks, including the downing of a Chinese spy balloon launched by the continental US feed.

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 on different levels, even if they are difficult conversations,” she said.

“In terms of trade, there are not many comparable perspectives at the moment,” she said of the US and China. “I’m not sure where it will lead, but I think the talks will continue to be difficult, but I think it’s important that we have them.”

(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Kim Coghill)

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