China urges US to cancel tariffs, after Biden says he is not ready
Published: Jan 20, 2022 09:42 PM
Containers are handled at the Port of Nantong in East China's Jiangsu Province on January 9, 2022. According to local transport authorities, throughput at the port reached 2.03 million standard containers in 2021, a record high.

Containers are handled at the Port of Nantong in East China's Jiangsu Province on January 9, 2022. According to local transport authorities, throughput at the port reached 2.03 million standard containers in 2021, a record high.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday exhorted the US to cancel the tariffs it had imposed, citing the resultant benefits to consumers and producers across the Pacific amid inflation woes, after US President Joe Biden said that he was not ready for a removal of tariffs imposed by his predecessor.

"China has always believed that removing the imposed tariffs bodes well for China, the US and the world," Shu Jueting, spokesperson for the MOFCOM, told a regular press conference.

The cancellation of tariffs benefits the fundamental interests of consumers and producers from both China and the US amid inflation woes and it would be propitious to the recovery of the global economy as well, Shu said.

On Wednesday, Biden told a news conference at the White House that "we're not there yet," referring to making commitments on removing US tariffs on Chinese items imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump, according to Reuters.

Biden is apparently beating around the bush despite calls from some business groups to begin unwinding US tariffs of up to 25 percent on Chinese goods.

In a fresh effort to dial down bilateral tensions, Chuck Robbins, chief executive of US network equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc, said Wednesday that the US and Chinese governments ought to "find a way to coexist," according to Bloomberg.
"For the global economy and, frankly, for the world, I think it's important for us to come to some common ground," he said, adding that "I'm hopeful that the administration will continue to take that approach."

It could be that the Biden administration is ready to phase out the tariffs but it is yet to be done with the preparations, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

While Biden remained unclear when the cancellation would happen, he said Katherine Tai, the US chief trade negotiator, was working on the issue, according to media reports.

The US might be weighing a tariff removal, which some members of the Biden administration would champion, while some others would tend to oppose it, Gao said, adding that calculations might be under way as to which side ends up prevailing.

The tariff cancellation surely benefits both China and the US, as Chinese businesses are in part subject to the fallout of the imposed tariffs, which raise their costs, while US importers also bear the brunt of the additional tariffs and accordingly feed the pressure through to producers and consumers, the expert went on to say.

The removal of additional tariffs would therefore turn out to be good news for both producers and consumers across the Pacific, observers stressed. 

A move in this direction would help the US in particular, as soaring prices are putting the US economic recovery at risk, prompting the Federal Reserve to begin a cycle of rate hikes as soon as March, analysts said.

The US consumer price index rose 7 percent in December compared with the year before, the seventh month in a row of 5-percent-plus inflation, per data from the US Department of Labor.

The price level, unseen in decades, is cited as justifying the start of a cycle of interest rate hikes later this year, fueling woes across the globe over the resulting repercussions on global equities.

No matter whether the tariffs are canceled or not, efforts to stabilize economic growth in China's case and to battle the runaway inflation on the part of the US ought to be based on the interests of consumers and producers, Gao noted, arguing against "political calculations."

Earlier this month, Shu said economic and trade teams from the two countries were maintaining normal communication.

Since the phase-one deal came into force, China has strived to overcome several unfavorable factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic recession and supply chain disruptions, to push for the joint implementation of the deal, the spokesperson added.

Trade between China and the US soared by 28.7 percent to $755.6 billion in 2021, Chinese customs data showed, despite tariffs and bruising political tensions between the world's top two economies.  

Trade concerns have increasingly given way to the attractiveness of the Chinese market.

"The resilience of the Chinese industrial system and supply chains played the role of 'producer of last resort' for the rest of the world during the pandemic," US bank Citi said in a report sent to the Global Times. 

"The concerns of trade and economic tensions between the US and China, while remaining important, have declined at the margin," the report said.