The trade relationship between the United States and China is still very strained. China generously supports many of its own industries while erecting barriers to some US industries; Meanwhile, the United States and China continue to impose tariffs on $ 410 billion in reciprocal goods each year.
On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai explained how the Biden administration plans to approach the relationship. Tai told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the root of trade tensions between the United States and China was still firmly in place.
“In recent years, Beijing has doubled its state-centric economic system,” she said. “It’s increasingly clear that China’s plans do not include meaningful reforms to address concerns shared by the United States and many other countries.”
The next step, Tai said, is to pressure China to stick to the deals it made under the Trump administration to, among other things, buy more American goods. But she admitted that this doesn’t really address the main economic problem between the two countries: how China heavily subsidizes certain industries, undermining foreign competitors.
United States sees little chance of China changing its ways, said Michel hirson to the Eurasia Group.
“The Biden administration doesn’t think there is much to be gained in the short term from negotiations with China,” he said.
Tai said that given China’s importance to its own domestic infrastructure and industries, the Biden administration is focused on strengthening competitiveness here in the United States, particularly by building U.S. infrastructure and training workers currently being considered in Congress. Tai also said the United States needs to work with its allies to resolve issues with China, but provided few details.
“I don’t think we’ve gained much clarity on what the US’s long-term engagement with China will look like, unfortunately,” said Marie Belle with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Perhaps this is in part because so much about the US-China relationship is so unpredictable.