US importers’ request for refund of Trump-era tariffs shows it’s time for US to take concrete steps
Published: Mar 02, 2023 11:34 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Some US importers are demanding refunds for Trump-era tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday. The businesses have argued that the US government illegally ignored public opinion before imposing additional tariffs on Chinese goods and failed to assess the damage it would do to the US economy. This shows American businesses are increasingly tired of continuing to pay for failed economic and trade policies of their government.

The complaints of American companies against Trump's tariffs have become more intensive and louder. Latest example: a number of American companies once again urged the Biden administration to cancel the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods during the Trump era, Bloomberg reported on January 19.

However, not only did the Biden administration fail to cancel the Trump-era tariffs on China on schedule, but it also intensified its pressure on China on trade issues. For example, The Office of the US Trade Representative last week released a new report to groundlessly accuse China of taking "non-market economic practices." The US has completely failed to ease tensions and to create a good atmosphere to restore economic and trade relations between the two countries.

It is plain for all to see that the additional tariffs on China are harmful for the US economy. As this has turned into a basic consensus in the US, the reason why US politicians are unable to take correct measures to ease China-US trade tensions is because of extreme anti-China sentiments in the twisted political environment in Washington.

Trump's trade war against China had been proved failed. An analysis by Pablo Fajgelbaum, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that tariffs through 2019 had cost the US economy a net $16 billion annually, including losses to businesses and consumers, the SCMP reported.

If such damaging economic and trade policies are allowed to continue indefinitely, or even more erroneous policies are added to undermine China-US economic and trade, it will definitely cause greater damage to the US economy and greater losses on US companies.

On the issue of additional tariffs on China, there have been different voices within the US government. Last year, under the pressure of surging inflation, the US announced the exemption of some additional tariffs on Chinese products. The Biden administration has now made adjustments to Trump's additional tariff on other countries, but it has not made adjustments to most tariffs on China. This is obviously suppression and containment. 

It has been proven time and again that the US has imposed tariffs on China that are harmful to the US economy. It is hoped that the US can take a concrete step and stop suppressing China in such a way that harms others and does not benefit itself. This is also helpful for alleviating internal contradictions in the US and solving economic problems.

The author is a vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies in Beijing.