Opinion: The United States wants to redirect its trade policy towards China, but is still heading for an impasse

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Artwork: Tang Tengfei/GT

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday that the U.S. needed to “turn the page from the old playbook.” in terms of trade policy towards China, while suggesting going further down the wrong path. pressure and decoupling approach.

Top Washington trade official says US needs to find new ‘tools’ on top of phase one trade deal to more directly confront China’s ‘unfair economic policies and practices’, strengthen ties trade with more savings and develop national tools to get rid of dependence on the Chinese economy, according to media reports.

Some US media said Tai’s remarks reflected a noticeable change in tone in the US’ handling of its trade relationship with China, suggesting a “good faith effort” to engage China. To say the least, it’s extremely confusing, as the US government’s ever-increasing crackdown on Chinese products and companies doesn’t appear to be in “good faith”, far from it.

It’s true that the Biden administration needs a change in its business approach to China, but instead of going further in the wrong direction of pressure and decoupling, it needs to take steps to defuse tensions, otherwise it will find itself in a dead end.

Certainly, it is not the “good faith effort” of the United States that is reaching its limits, as suggested; it is the malevolent and hostile approach of the United States that is reaching its limits. Despite Washington’s growing hostility toward China, many in the country, including hawkish U.S. politicians, appear concerned about the growing costs of the U.S. trade war to U.S. businesses and consumers.

At Wednesday’s hearing, some U.S. lawmakers pressured Tai to tell her how strongly she would oppose “Chinese barriers to market access,” while others urged Tai to put in place. a simpler process for American companies to obtain exemptions from the heavy tariffs imposed by the United States on Chinese products.

Speaking on the U.S. government’s earlier decision to reinstate 352 expired product exclusions from U.S. “Section 301” tariffs on Chinese imports, U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith said “all Americans affected by the tariffs should have the possibility to request exclusions”.

The difficult economic situation in the United States and growing complaints from the American business community about the trade war are forcing the Biden administration to ease trade tensions with China. There is countless evidence showing that the US trade war has caused serious losses to the US economy. US tariffs of $300-400 billion on Chinese imports cost the US more than 245,000 jobs at their peak and would cost more than 732,000 US jobs as tensions escalate, showed research from Oxford Economics last year.

It is obvious that US companies will suffer further losses if the US government imposes more trade sanctions on China, including punitive tariffs on Chinese products and crackdowns on Chinese companies.

A recent investigation by the American Chamber of Commerce in China showed that while the Biden administration keeps tariffs and sanctions in place against Chinese products and companies and further escalates the crackdown on Chinese companies, American companies, who see their profits increase and improve the business environment in China, are increasingly worried about “rising tensions”.

When asked about extending the tariff exemption, Tai said such a move should serve the “strategic interests” of the United States. It is clear that the voice of the American business community is more representative of American strategic interests than that of American anti-China politicians. When the Biden administration formulates a new trade policy toward China, it should listen more to growing calls from the U.S. business community to restore trade ties with China.

The author is a journalist at the Global Times. [email protected]

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