U.S. Trade Representative Admits to Hagerty that Removal of China Tariffs Weakens U.S. Negotiating Leverage

June 22, 2022

Confession comes amid reports that the Biden Administration is weighing removing tariffs

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today asked U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai about the reduction in the United States’ leverage to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s malign behavior against American workers and businesses should the Biden Administration remove the tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration to achieve more fair and reciprocal trade with China. The Biden Administration is reportedly considering removing the tariffs as a misguided way of responding to historic inflation that its policies and spending have inflicted.

“I’d like to talk about the negotiating leverage that those tariffs provide. I can tell you from personal experience that when those tariffs were imposed on China, that it was felt around the world… Ambassador Tai, I understand that China’s not living up to the commitments that it’s made under phase one. You’ve talked about that at length. My question for you is, wouldn’t removing these tariffs simply encourage more bad behavior? What kind of message would it send to China?” Hagerty asked.

Hagerty went on to note that the tariffs, when imposed, did not lead to inflation, and removing them would unlikely affect current inflation, but would weaken our negotiating leverage against China, which could be disastrous. Tai agreed.

“The China tariffs are, in my view, a significant piece of leverage—and a trade negotiator never walks away from leverage,” Tai said. 

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