Biden plans punitive tariffs with exceptions

In the trade war with China, the US administration of President Joe Biden wants to maintain the punitive tariffs imposed on Beijing, but allow more exemptions in favor of the US economy. Senior officials in the Biden administration have announced that a process will be relaunched in which U.S. companies could apply to be exempted from punitive tariffs on imports from China in certain cases. Representatives of US companies had requested this in light of the cost increases resulting from tariffs. In addition, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai was keen to resume direct talks with Beijing soon and ensure that China meets its commitments under the joint “phase one” agreement, they said.

Tai is scheduled to present the new strategy in the trade dispute with China during a speech to a think tank in Washington on Monday (4:00 p.m. CET). According to its own statements, the Biden administration wants to maintain an overall difficult course vis-à-vis Beijing, but take a more differentiated and coordinated approach than the previous administration under Donald Trump. The latter’s approach had been chaotic and unpredictable in parts and hurt parts of the US economy, administration officials criticized.

The aim is not to intensify trade tensions with China, they said. However, they said, the US government will use the full range of tools – if necessary – to uphold the interests of the United States, its economy and its workers. When asked if new punitive tariffs were also a possibility when in doubt, they replied, “We don’t want to take any options off the table.”

The trade war between the two largest economies began in mid-June 2018: with punitive tariffs on imports from China amounting to US $ 50 billion, US President Trump then started the conflict. He wanted to reduce the trade deficit with China and accused Beijing of unfair trade practices. The conflict escalated until, a year later, Trump imposed punitive tariffs on nearly all imports from China worth more than US $ 500 billion – more than Beijing could. respond with counter-tariffs.

Declining flows of goods and uncertainties over the trade war have also held back global growth. Then, in January 2020, as the Corona pandemic began in China, the two sides reached at least partial agreement on their conflict. At the heart of the so-called phase one deal was China’s pledge to buy more goods from the United States for $ 200 billion by the end of 2021 – mostly oil and gas ($ 50 billion dollars), industrial products ($ 80 billion) and agricultural products ($ 32 billion).

U.S. government officials have complained that the Chinese government has failed to honor commitments made under the deal. They said Tai would raise this issue openly with the Chinese government. Clear enforcement mechanisms were agreed upon in the deal, they said, stressing that “we are ready to take action if the talks do not produce the desired results.”

The Biden administration gives China a prominent position in its foreign policy: the US president sees the world’s second-largest economy as its most powerful competitor and its number one geopolitical challenge. However, the Democrat initially did not touch the trade deal with China and punitive tariffs against Beijing after taking office, but ordered a full review of trade policy towards China. This is now complete.

It is the most important bilateral trade relationship in the world, according to the US government. That is why they took the time to examine it in detail. The new administration takes a balanced approach – with greater consideration for long-term consequences and close coordination with international partners. In addition, the Biden administration examines not only trade and tariffs, but all aspects of economic relations with China. This includes making US companies more competitive or supply chains less dependent on China through targeted investments, he said. Overall, China’s approach needs to be flexible and nimble, US officials said. They said they would see how China received Tai’s speech and then react accordingly.

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