Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that President Biden is considering reversing some of the Trump-era tariffs on China to combat skyrocketing inflation, saying they “serve no strategic purpose.”
“President Biden is reviewing tariff policy toward China,” Ms. Yellen said on ABC’s “This Week.” “He inherited a set of tariffs from the Trump administration, many of which were put on as retaliation for China‘s failure to respond to abuses that weren’t covered in a 301 investigation.”
She referred to the Trump administration’s investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which found in 2018 that China engaged in unfair trade practices.
“We all recognize that China engages in a range of unfair trade practices that it’s important to address,” Ms. Yellen said. “But the tariffs we inherited, some [serve] no strategic purpose and raise costs to consumers. And so, reconfiguring some of those tariffs so they make more sense and reduce some unnecessary burdens is something that’s under consideration.”
The Trump administration began imposing tariffs of up to 25% on Chinese imports shortly after the 2018 investigation.
“Section 301 tariffs on China currently remain in place under the Biden administration and account for $71 billion of the $75 billion in tariff revenues, based on 2018 import values,” the Tax Foundation said in its tariff tracker.
Ms. Yellen declined to say when tariffs might be lifted, saying the idea was “under consideration. I don’t want to get ahead of where the policy process is.”
She agreed that inflation is “really unacceptably high,” blaming in part the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but said she expected high prices to decline.
“Well, we have had high inflation in first half of this year and that locks in high inflation really for the entire year, but I do expect in the months ahead that the pace of inflation — it’s likely to come down, although remember there are so many uncertainties relating to global developments,” she said.
Some members of Congress have called for a federal gas-tax holiday, which Ms. Yellen said was “an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”