During his time in office, former President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on China in retaliation for intellectual property theft and other malfeasance.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump’s successor may soon drop those tariffs to combat inflation. However, critics say the move will embolden China while doing little to help consumers.
The policy could affect “consumer goods such as clothing and school supplies”
The Journal quoted Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as saying during an interview with ABC News on June 19 that a change in trade policy regarding China is on the table.
“Reconfiguring some of those tariffs so they make more sense and reducing unnecessary burdens is something that’s under consideration,” she said.
The Journal stated options being looked at include lifting tariffs on “consumer goods such as clothing and school supplies, as well as launching a broad framework to allow importers to request tariff waivers.”
Claire Reade is a former official at the U.S. Trade Representative who currently works for the law firm Arnold & Porter, and she told the Journal that Biden is up against “two very strong, competing concerns.”
“One is the need to be perceived as fighting inflation,” she said “And the other is the need to be seen to be very strong in standing up to China.”
“The question is how do you take all of these divergent concerns and harmonize them into one policy?” she went on to ask.
Republican advisor says dropping tariffs will help China more than consumers
Meanwhile, Fox News reported that the Financial Times published an op-ed last weekend written by Oren Cass, who was formerly a political advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. It argued that the proposed tariff changes will benefit China rather than Americans.
“A campaign is underway, led by officials in the Biden administration, to convince Americans that slashing tariffs on Chinese imports might offer relief from rapidly rising prices,” Cass wrote.
“That is not remotely the case — indeed, the argument is hard to deliver without a wry grin and a chuckle,” he insisted, adding, “Tariff changes do not necessarily translate into price changes.”
“As analysts like RealityChek’s Alan Tonelson and the Coalition for a Prosperous America’s Michael Stumo have been observing for years, one is hard-pressed to find evidence in the consumer price data from 2018-19 to vindicate the warnings that American consumers would bear the burden of the Trump administration’s tariffs.”