The Biden administration is considering ending some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods in a bid to control inflation, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN on Sunday, as Americans consider rising prices as one of the country’s most pressing problems.
President Joe Biden has asked Raimondo and other administration officials to analyze possible plans to lift some of the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports, Raimondo told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union.
The administration decided to keep tariffs on steel and aluminum to protect the domestic steel industry, Raimondo said, but she added that it “could make sense” to lift tariffs on products like household items and bicycles.
Raimondo did not say whether the tariffs will be lifted, adding that Biden “will have to make that decision.”
Tariffs launched by former President Donald Trump against Chinese goods – part of a protectionist trade strategy aimed at reducing US dependence on imports – have been blamed for lowering US stock prices and to increase the prices of consumer goods such as clothing and furniture. Beginning in 2018, Trump’s initial tariffs targeted steel and aluminum, materials the United States has accused China of dumping on world markets at low rates, contributing to oversupply. The tariffs were later expanded to target consumer goods like clothing and sporting goods. In 2020, China and the Trump administration signed the phase one trade deal, under which China agreed to buy an additional $200 billion worth of American goods per year in exchange for some tariff easing. The following year, Biden rolled back some of his predecessor’s tariffs, but left tariffs in place on more than $360 billion worth of goods. China’s apparent failure to meet the terms of the phase one deal could make it harder for the Biden administration to justify a full easing of Trump-era tariffs.
As prices for consumer goods have surged over the past year, inflation has become one of Americans’ top concerns: a May Pew Research Center poll found that 70% of American adults consider inflation as a very big problem, more than double the percentage of Americans who consider racism, infrastructure problems, unemployment and the Covid-19 pandemic very big problems. Month-over-month inflation slowed from 1.2% in March to 0.3% in April, which was above the forecast of 0.2% for the month but below record increases that made headlines for the previous eight months. In April, prices rose 8.3% from the same month a year earlier, down from the 8.5% year-on-year increase in March, the first drop in month-over-month since August 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS). Gasoline prices in the United States fell 6.1% in April according to BLS statistics, but hit a record high of $4.848 per gallon on Sunday, according to the American Automobile Association.
“70% of Americans say inflation, nearly 40 years old, is a huge problem, poll finds” (Forbes)