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The U.S. is reviewing its trade policy with China, says USTR Katherine Tai

The U.S. is reviewing its trade policy with China, says USTR Katherine Tai

25 Aug 2021

Flags of U.S. and China are displayed at American International Chamber of Commerce (AICC)’s booth during China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, China, May 28, 2019.

Jason Lee | Reuters

BEIJING — Seven months since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, his administration has yet to establish a trade policy with China.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Tuesday the “Biden-Harris Administration and USTR are conducting a comprehensive review of U.S.-China trade policy,” according to a readout of a virtual meeting with two business associations, the U.S. Chamber China Center Advisory Board and the U.S.-China Business Council.

She acknowledged the significance of the U.S.-China trade relationship, and said the U.S. remains committed to “addressing China’s unfair trade policies and non-market practices that undermine American businesses and workers,” the readout said.

Michael Hirson, practice head for China and Northeast Asia at consulting firm Eurasia Group, has pointed out that Biden was able to persuade major G-7 countries to make strong statements against China. However, Biden has “not yet articulated a trade strategy or another approach that would really be effective in countering China’s economic strength,” Hirson said.

Trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalated under former President Donald Trump. A dispute that began with tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods from both sides has since spilled over into technology and finance.

American companies and other foreign businesses have had longstanding complaints about unequal access to the Chinese market, lack of intellectual property protection and forced technology transfer.

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China’s Ministry of Commerce said last week the two countries remained in “normal communication” regarding trade, according to a CNBC translation.

Trade between the U.S. and China has grown despite the political tensions.

China’s exports to the U.S. for the first seven months of the year rose 36.9% compared to the same period in 2020, while imports climbed 50.4% year-on-year in the January to July period, according to customs data accessed through Wind Information.

China’s trade surplus with the U.S. rose further in July to $35.42 billion, despite Trump’s efforts to reduce that surplus.