A bipartisan group of senators are calling on President Joe Biden to “substantially maintain” tariffs on Chinese imports put in place by former President Donald Trump.
In a letter written to the president, the nine senators asserted that “the tariffs are not a driver of today’s inflation,” and therefore the Biden administration shouldn’t be considering removing them as they desperately scramble to fix the economy leading up to the November midterms.
“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,” the senators wrote, referring to a deal Trump made with China.
While on his recent trip to Asia, Biden announced that he was considering removing tariffs on Chinese goods, stating that they “were imposed by the last administration, and they’re under consideration.”
Since taking office, Biden has lifted some Trump-era tariffs on goods imported from other countries, and some economists have claimed that rolling back more would help lower the record-high inflation the country is currently suffering from.
“The sooner we get rid of those tariffs on the rest of the world, the better for us because consumers, customers pay those tariffs,” Farrokh Langdana, professor of finance and economics at Rutgers Business School, told The National Desk.
The bipartisan group of senators seems to disagree with that assessment, writing in their letter 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,” the letter read.
In February, an analyst revealed to MarketWatch that the White House hoped to “get to fairly widespread tariff rollbacks sometime this year,” but the administration had not wanted to announce those rollbacks until after it had negotiated for changes in China’s industrial policies.
Now, the administration seems to have abandoned the idea of asking for any concessions at all from the communist country, which is a major cause for concern according to the senators, who are urging Biden to rethink his plan.
“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,” the group wrote. “We need to make clear to China that dialogue leads to commitments — and failure to adhere to these commitments is 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,” they added.
Six Republicans and three Democrats signed onto the letter, including Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rick Scott (R-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).