Former diplomat on trade tensions, Biden’s trade policy
Higher US tariffs on Chinese goods are hurting US businesses and consumers, and it would be “wise” to reduce those levies, a former US diplomat and trade negotiator said Thursday.
If the two countries reduced each other’s tariffs, their relationship could improve, said Frank Lavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
He told CNBC that a “mutual reduction” in tariffs would also allow the United States to address long-standing concerns about China’s trade practices.
Lavin was asked what advice he would give the Biden administration on its policy toward China.
“I would say don’t walk away from the problem, there are serious business issues out there and I think a lot of the criticisms of President Trump were valid, so don’t give up on this agenda,” Lavin, now CEO and founder of the consulting firm Export Now, “Street Signs Asia” told CNBC.
Flags of the United States and China displayed on a table before a meeting.
Jason Lee | AFP | Getty Images
“But I think in the same breath, it would be wise to remove the tariffs because the tariffs hurt American businesses, American consumers, American workers just as they hurt the Chinese economy,” he added. .
U.S.-China trade tensions escalated under former President Donald Trump, with both sides escalating tariffs on each other’s goods worth billions of dollars. The trade dispute has since spilled over into technology and finance.
President Joe Biden’s administration has indicated it will continue to be tough on China. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last week that the administration was conducting a “comprehensive review” of its trade policy with China.
Companies in the United States and other countries have long complained about unequal access to Chinese markets, lack of intellectual property protection, and the forced transfer of technology.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said Beijing would continue to work with other countries and reduce tariffs – although it did not specifically mention the United States by name.
Still, Lavin said the United States could keep Xi at his word by continuing to cut tariffs and improve relations.
“So I would say that if we can just have a mutual reduction in these rates, we will have a better working relationship,” Lavin said. “And then let’s start tackling some of these trade issues one by one and help China meet global standards.”
– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.