The United States has said it will soon have “frank talks” with China on trade, with Washington saying the Asian giant has not honored its commitments under a 2020 deal, but the increase tensions between economic powers is not the goal.
“China has made commitments intended to benefit certain US industries, including agriculture, which we must uphold,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Monday.
However, the aim of the negotiations in the coming days is “not to stir up trade tensions with China,” Tai told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
She also warned that President Joe Biden’s administration is “ready to deploy all tools and explore the development of new ones” to “protect against the waves of damage inflicted over the years by unfair competition.”
Tai announced the launch of a “targeted tariff exclusion process” for tariff exemptions imposed on US $ 370 billion of Chinese products per year implemented under former President Donald Trump.
Punitive tariffs, imposed in retaliation for Chinese business practices deemed “unfair”, are criticized by many companies.
In August, influential US business groups urged Biden to reduce surcharges, pointing out that US industries faced “increased costs” as tariffs are paid by importers.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the tariffs “will remain in place” for the duration of the exemption process.
Biden, who took office in January, asked Tai to conduct a full review of the United States’ trade strategy towards China and the tariffs initiated by Trump.
“We continue to have serious concerns about China’s state-centric and non-market business practices” that were not addressed in the “phase one” agreement signed early last year for calm a trade war between countries, Tai said.
“As we work to enforce the terms of the first phase, we will raise these broader political concerns with Beijing.”
The agreement signed by Trump and his Tai counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, committed Beijing to add an additional $ 200 billion in purchases of US exports, including energy, agricultural and manufactured goods until 2021.
However, critics say that did not happen, although administration official Biden did not clarify the extent of the shortfall, while indicating that Washington is not happy.
“Some commitments have not been kept and we believe the overall results of the agreement have been mixed,” the official said, while stressing that the US objective “is not to intensify trade tensions” .
Tai’s speech underscored the administration’s strategy of teaming up with allied democracies in its competition with China.
Trump, who has rejected traditional American alliances, has raised concern in the world market with his trade war.
However, it ended up producing limited concrete results, not to mention progress on deep-rooted issues that the United States and its allies say is affecting its trade relationship with China. (AFP)