Nature

Not ‘sitting on its hands’, US to increase pressure on China, says trade czar Tai


Band Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters)The United States is done ‘sitting on its hands’ and will more actively pressure China, the world’s second-largest economy, to change trade practices that Washington says are distorting the market, the negotiator says American saleswoman Katherine Tai.

Tai, a trade lawyer and former congressman appointed by President Joe Biden, inherited difficult talks with Beijing over a “Phase 1” trade deal brokered by former President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Tai said the United States was preparing a new approach to China trade policy.

Without giving details, she said Washington needed new, more effective tools to defend its economic interests and better compete with China. New U.S. trade investigations, which could result in tariffs or even embargoes against China, could be next, people familiar with the matter said.

“We will not stop pushing and challenging China to reform and change. But we cannot afford to sit on our hands and wait for China to make up its mind,” Tai said. , the first Asian American to hold this position. and fluent in Mandarin.

“We’re going to have to turn the page in the playbook,” Tai said.

A March report from his office said China had “doubled down on its harmful trade and economic abuses.” Beijing has not bought the promised $200 billion in additional goods and services from the United States agreed to in the deal.

China now faces warnings from the United States, the world’s largest economy, not to aid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the year since Tai became trade czar, some U.S. business leaders say they are frustrated with the slow progress in cracking down on China. Meanwhile, the US trade deficit with China hit $355.3 billion in 2021, the largest since 2018.

Tai acknowledged the frustrations, but pointed to the longstanding differences Washington has resolved with other countries over the past year, precisely, she said, to focus on the biggest threats posed. China.

Washington settled a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies with the EU and Britain, and a four-year battle over US steel and aluminum tariffs with the EU, Britain Britain and Japan, she said.

ALLIES, RATES, CONGRESS

In November, Tai relaunched a trilateral dialogue with the EU and Japan initiated by the Trump administration, seeking a joint approach to China’s industrial subsidies and other “non-market policies and practices,” aimed at garnering support. of the World Trade Organization, a US official said.

Washington is considering a new Section 301 investigation into Chinese industrial subsidies that could lead to another round of tariffs or embargoes, officials say.

The Biden administration may also target China’s violations of intellectual property protections under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, said William Reinsch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The US Congress is also considering bipartisan legislation that would strengthen protections against trade secret violations and speed up investigation and exclusion processes.

Tai, citing concerns over China’s use of forced labor in his Xinjiang region, also develops a first-ever USTR trade strategy on the subject.

King & Spalding partner and former top US trade official Jamieson Greer said Beijing’s response to the war in Ukraine has heightened Europe’s growing unease with China, adding that Western sanctions against Russia could provide a manual for future actions against China.

Tai said a “one size fits all” approach would not work.

“It’s two different countries, two different economies, two different situations. And we really confuse them at our peril,” she said.

GRAPH-Pressed to choose sides on Ukraine, Chinese trade favors the West – Reuters

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Heather Timmons and Howard Goller)

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