A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Joe Biden not to end tariffs on China, making the case the tariffs are not responsible for growing inflation.
Cracking down on China was one of the hallmark promises of the Trump presidency, with tariffs designed to reshape the economic relationship between the two countries and hold China responsible for unfair trade practices. Despite soaring unemployment, senators want Biden to hold the line.
The letter was signed by Sentators Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Rick Scott, Jim Inhofe, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Braun, and Kevin Cramer.
“We write to express our continued support for the trade action taken against China pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. We share long-standing concerns about the ways in which China’s acts, policies, and practices have discriminated against U.S. exports and contributed to the offshoring of U.S. jobs, manufacturing, and innovation, all of which has undermined the competitiveness of our country. As you consider the future of the Section 301 action, we urge you to substantially maintain the tariffs in their current form. Rolling back the tariffs on China would undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the United States is preferable to changing their non-market behavior or complying with the Phase One Agreement,” said the senators.
The senators made the case that ending the tariffs now would only weaken negotiations in the future:
“Rather than lifting the tariffs, the United States should use the enforcement tools guaranteed by that agreement to make clear that we are serious about rectifying its violations. We need to make clear to China that dialogue leads to commitments—and failure to adhere to these commitments are followed by robust enforcement. If we do not exercise the legal rights under the Phase One Agreement, it will only make it more difficult to make progress with China on the subsidies, state-owned enterprises, suppression of labor rights, and other unfair behaviors that are the core of the structural obstacles to a level playing field in bilateral trade.”
The senators also addressed one of the biggest concerns on the minds of Americans, making it clear that tariffs on China are not one of the driving factors behind growing inflation:
“In closing, we note that the tariffs are not a driver of today’s inflation. Not only do the tariffs predate the current inflation by over three years, but Chinese imports make up only 2 percent of goods included in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and would not materially reduce inflation. Indeed, much of the inflation we are seeing relates to fuel and food—sectors that are unrelated to imports from China.”
It remains to be seen what action President Biden will take, but he clearly has bipartisan support for continuing to take a tough stance on China.