10/05/2021, 16.36
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Tariff war: Openings from Biden, but Trump's tariffs remain

Washington outlines its trade strategy toward Beijing. U.S. Trade Representative: open dialogue for full implementation of the January 2020 agreement, largely disregarded by the Chinese. Planned re-booting of targeted exemptions for exports from China. Signs of thaw between the two sides continues: possible face-to-face between Biden and Xi Jinping.


Washington (AsiaNews) - Dialogue to push the Chinese to respect "Phase One" of the trade agreement signed with Donald Trump; possibility of imposing new duties; synergy with allies to shape the rules of fair trade (in an anti-Beijing key): These are the main points of the trade strategy - rather vague, for many observers - towards China outlined yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington by Katherine Tai, US Trade Representative.

After taking office in January, President Joe Biden declared that his administration would analyze the effects on the national economy of the tariffs introduced by his predecessor against Chinese products.

In order to find a solution to the trade war sparked by Trump, in January 2020, the United States and China signed a preliminary agreement in which Beijing pledged to increase its purchase of goods and services from the U.S. by about 184 billion euros by the end of 2021 - compared to 2017 levels. The goal was never achieved, as Tai pointed out.

According to the U.S. trade envoy, Trump's agreement did not significantly address fundamental U.S. concerns about unfair trade practices employed by the Chinese; and this despite the fact that it brought some benefits, for example to the U.S. agricultural sector.

After criticizing Trump's "unilateral" trade policies, Biden has no in fact confirmed them. Members of his administration have ruled out negotiations for a "Phase Two." Tai explained that the U.S. government is focused on the proper implementation of the first understanding and does not expect significant reforms from Beijing. Washington's focus is primarily on Chinese state aid, such as trade subsidies, an issue that Phase One does not address.

In early September, press reports circulated about the possible launch of new punitive tariffs to counter Beijing's industrial supports. Tai said the government will keep all options open to protect the domestic economy, but added that the U.S. will reinstate targeted exemptions for Chinese exports.

Critics of Trump's tariffs, especially multinational corporations, argue that tariff barriers have failed to reduce the deficit in trade with China. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the first seven months of 2021 the trade deficit with the Chinese touched 161.5 billion: in the same time frame in 2020 it had reached 140.6 billion.

There have been some recent signs of détente between the two conflicting parties, as evidenced by the recent release in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, financial administrator of Huawei: the United States accused her of violating international sanctions against Iran. Tai is set to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is in charge of trade negotiations with Washington.

After the phone call between Biden and Xi on September 10, according to the South China Morning Post, Yang Jiechi, the highest diplomatic authority of the Asian giant, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will meet in Switzerland between tomorrow and the weekend. The two envoys should also talk about a possible face-to-face between their presidents.

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