President Joe Biden may announce as soon as this week a rollback of some U.S. tariffs on Chinese consumer goods — as well as a new probe into industrial subsidies that could lead to more duties in strategic areas like technology.
Biden has not yet made a final decision, and the timing could slip, according to people familiar with the deliberations, who asked not to be identified without permission to discuss private conversations.
It would mark his first major policy step on trade ties between the world’s two biggest economic powers. The president in recent weeks held a number of meetings with senior economic advisers where options for a decision on the Trump-era tariffs were discussed, according to the people.
Hints that the Biden administration is considering an easing in some of the tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports have multiplied as inflation has accelerated, putting pressure on U.S. officials to find ways to tamp down prices paid by consumers for everyday merchandise.
Biden said last month he’ll be talking to Chinese President Xi Jinping “soon” and told reporters he was “in the process” of making up his mind about whether to lift tariffs.
Some members of Biden’s Cabinet suggested he use the upcoming call with Xi to ask him for reciprocal tariff cuts on American goods currently facing import duties, though that idea was quickly shot down, the people said.
A White House spokeswoman said no decision on the tariffs has been made but the administration wants to ensure they are aligned with “economic and strategic” priorities and don’t unnecessarily raise costs for Americans.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported a decision could come as soon as this week.
The Biden administration said in May it was taking the first step toward a review of the tariffs, a process required to keep them from starting to expire in July. Industries that have benefited from duties imposed under former President Donald Trump have until July 6 to comment and request an extension of the levies.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said June 8 that the administration is looking to “reconfigure” Trump-era tariffs, imposed on Chinese goods under what’s known as Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, that “really weren’t designed to serve our strategic interests.”