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US Reviewing Trade Sanctions to Tackle China Supply Chain Threats

White House trade chief Katherine Tai will tell lawmakers the administration is even looking at reintroducing some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Photo: Denis Balibouse, Reuters.


The Biden administration is “taking a serious look” at how it can combat the threats posed by China’s trade and economic policies, as a worried Washington scrambles to protect its supply chains.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will tell lawmakers on Tuesday that a review will even include a look at some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports.

In excerpts of testimony to the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee released ahead of the hearing, Tai said that China’s policies were causing “dependencies and vulnerabilities in multiple sectors, harming American workers and businesses and creating real risks for our supply chains.” 

“This is why we are taking a serious look at how our existing tools are addressing this problem, including through our four-year review of the China Section 301 tariffs,” Tai said.

Tai’s testimony on the Biden administration’s 2024 trade agenda comes just a week after US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a warning to Chinese leaders that their over-investment in production capacity for electric vehicles, solar panels and other clean energy goods was threatening an unacceptable wave of exports that would hurt producers and workers in the United States and elsewhere.


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Yellen on Tuesday will commence a new dialogue with Chinese officials on “balanced growth” at the Treasury, but China trade experts say her message to Beijing on excess capacity may be an initial step toward a new “Section 301” unfair trade practices investigation that could impose new tariffs on EVs, solar panels and other imports.

Former President Donald Trump used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports in 2018. The Biden administration is now nearing completion of a lengthy review of whether to renew those duties.

Tai also will tell lawmakers that she is closely reviewing a petition from five US unions to open a new Section 301 investigation into China’s allegedly unfair acts, policies and practices in the maritime logistics and shipbuilding sector.

“Our economic relationship with the PRC is complex, and as the President said, we want competition with China, not conflict,” Tai said in her excerpts.

A major goal of the Biden administration’s work on supply chains has been aimed at reducing dependence on China and diversifying sources of supply to avoid bottlenecks like those that occurred at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tai said.

The US trade chief has put workers at the centre of US trade policy, seeking to build higher labour standards in trade negotiations with other countries. She said this includes prioritising strong labour commitments in negotiations with Kenya and Taiwan.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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