The Strategist

Katherine Tai: US will not lift customs duties on Chinese imports overnight

03/29/2021 - 04:15

The United States is not ready to lift customs duties on goods imported from China, which were increased during Donald Trump's presidency, in the near future. However, lifting the high tariffs could be part of new trade talks with Beijing.

Henning Schlottmann
Henning Schlottmann
The United States will not lift customs tariffs on imports from China overnight, but will be open to talks with Beijing. This was announced in a first interview of Katherine Tai after her confirmation as US Trade Representative, writes The Wall Street Journal. 

Tai acknowledged that the increased duties could harm US businesses and consumers, but supporters believe they protect US companies from unequal competition from China-subsidised goods. 

The overnight removal of the increased duties could also hurt the US economy on its own, she said, unless market players were made aware of it in a way that allowed them to make adjustments. She noted that companies - traders or manufacturers, as well as their employees - have the right to prepare in advance for those changes that affect their future. She added that as a negotiator, the US should not give up leverage on China either. 

The US under Trump has imposed increased customs duties on goods from China worth about $370bn a year, about 75% of their exports to the US by value. The tariffs are supposed to force China to abandon trade barriers to US goods. China has responded with duties of $110bn a year on US goods.  In 2020, the US and China signed an agreement to end the trade war. But the tariffs remained in effect: the U.S. wanted to use them as leverage to boost China's purchases of U.S. goods and better protect intellectual property.