White House Considering Adjustments to Chinese Tariffs

The U.S. may drop some of the tariffs imposed against Chinese imports to help control rising consumer prices, President Joe Biden said earlier in May. The administration has been reluctant to lift tariffs and jeopardize political goals, while weighing the impact of increasing costs on Americans.

"We're looking at what would have the most positive impact," Biden said.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

The U.S. consumer price index (CPI) hit 8.3% in April on a yearly basis, compared to the 8.5% increase recorded in March. Though lower than it was, the figure still represents a four-decade high.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Biden officials are divided over easing China tariffs to slow inflation. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and others are reluctant to "relinquish U.S. leverage over China in a continuing effort to reshape Chinese economic behavior," according to the Journal’s reporting.

Chinese interests, naturally, are eager for the tariffs to disappear.

"Our members have opposed tariffs from the beginning. They are an added cost paid by U.S. businesses and consumers. They contribute to inflationary pressures which have become a major concern for Americans. It's likely that tariffs in many consumer goods will be lifted first," Douglas Barry, Vice President of Communications and Publications at the US-China Business Council, told Global Times in an e-mail.

Such a move could welcome criticism of the U.S. position toward China, however.

"On the other hand, lifting the tariffs would lead to skepticism about the administration's toughness toward China, and a softer stance may cause Biden to lose some political support at home," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told Global Times.

The tariffs imposed under former President Donald Trump caused price increases on products including clothing, furniture, and other necessities.

"A feasible package of liberalization could deliver a one-time reduction in CPI inflation of around 1.3 percentage points, amounting to $797 per U.S. household, about half the size of pandemic relief in 2021," according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an independent nonpartisan research organization.