New China tariff probe among options considered by Biden -U.S. Chamber By Reuters

New China tariff probe among options considered by Biden -U.S. Chamber
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration is considering a range of options if talks over China’s unmet “Phase 1” purchasing commitments fail, including a new trade investigation that could lead to new tariffs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials said on Wednesday.

The administration also may work more closely with Europe and other U.S. allies to present a united front to Beijing in demanding a more level playing field for international firms, Myron Brilliant, the Chamber’s head of international affairs, told reporters.

U.S. trade data on Tuesday revealed a massive shortfall in China’s promised purchases of goods, services and energy under the former U.S. president Donald Trump’s Phase 1 trade deal implemented two years ago.

China met less than 60% of its purchasing goal, failing to meet a commitment to increase U.S. purchases by $200 billion above 2017 levels over two years that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain bottlenecks.

Brilliant said the Chamber supports the Biden administration’s talks with Chinese officials to hold them to the Phase 1 commitments.

“But should those talks not succeed in meeting the terms of the agreement, then I do think there are vehicles by which the administration can consider taking further action,” Brilliant said. “The administration is considering a range of options, and we’re not endorsing any of these options at this time, that could include obviously a 301 action and issues like that.”

The Trump administration used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, a statute aimed at combating trade partners’ unfair practices, to launch tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports in 2018 and 2019.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. In announcing her China trade strategy last October, top U.S. trade negotiator Katherine Tai did not rule out new tariff actions.

Brilliant said that any actions that the Biden administration takes should be done in consultation with the business community and with U.S. allies.

“Any action against China that isn’t done in a multilateral way, isn’t worked out with Europe and with our friends in Asia, will not be as productive,” he said.

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