US sticking to Trump’s China trade playbook for now 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says Washington will continue to talk tough with Beijing as it fights for fair trade with its chief economic rival 

by Sean OMeara
US sticking to Trump’s China trade playbook for now 
New US President Joe Biden has stuck to Trump’s hard line on China.

The new US administration will not be ripping up Donald Trump’s China tariffs list just yet and will instead play a waiting game.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said this week the tariffs imposed by Joe Biden’s predecessor would remain in place for the foreseeable future until a comprehensive review had taken place.

"For the moment, we have kept the tariffs in place that were put in by the Trump administration ... and we'll evaluate going forward what we think is appropriate," Yellen said, adding that Washington expected Beijing to adhere to its commitments on trade.

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The White House announced last month that it would review all national security measures put in place by the former President, including an interim trade deal with Beijing.

The deal eased tensions between the world's two largest economies after a damaging trade war that US experts estimate led to a peak loss of 245,000 US jobs, but most of the tariffs remain in place on both sides.

China had pledged to buy $200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years under the interim deal signed by Trump in January 2020, but Beijing fell 42% short of its target for last year, a recent study showed.

TRADE WAR

The agreement was seen as phase one of a deal aimed at resolving the trade war between the world's biggest economies.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic the US trade deficit with China has surged.

Medical goods and equipment used for the work-from-home boom helped drive US imports of Chinese goods in 2020.

During this time, China exported nearly three times as much as it imported from the US in December, according to Chinese customs figures.

MEND FENCES

President Biden has vowed to mend fences with US allies, but has stuck to Trump’s hard line on China, again warning Beijing last month over alleged human rights abuses.

"We're in the process of evaluating what our approach should be toward China but there are a range of issues where we see unfair practices," Yellen added.

There were also areas where the two countries needed to cooperate, she said, such as working to end the pandemic and combatting climate change.

  • Reporting by Reuters

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