Former diplomat on trade tensions, Biden’s trade policy

Former diplomat on trade tensions, Biden's trade policy

A former US diplomat and trade negotiator said on Thursday that high US tariffs on Chinese products were hurting US businesses and consumers, and that it would be “wise” to reduce the levies.

If the two countries reduce their tariffs on each other, their relations 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 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 fear this issue, there are serious trade issues and I think a lot of the criticism of President Trump was legitimate, so don’t give up on this agenda,” said Lavin, now chief. executive and founder of consulting firm Export Now, told CNBC’s “Street Science Asia”.

Flags of the United States and China were displayed on a table ahead of the meeting.

Jason Lee | AFP | Getty Images

“But I think it would be wise to remove the tariffs in the same breath because the tariffs hurt American businesses, American consumers, American workers just as they hurt the Chinese economy,” he said.

Trade tensions between the United States and China escalated under the leadership of former President Donald Trump, both sides burst into laughter

Tariffs on each other’s goods worth billions of dollars. The trade dispute has since spread to technology and finance.

President Joe Biden’s administration has indicated it will continue to crack down on China. US Trade Representative Catherine 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 forced technology transfers.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing would continue to work with other countries and reduce tariffs – although it did not specifically name the United States.

Still, Lavin said the United States could stick to Xi’s call to cut tariffs and improve relations.

“So I would say if we can do a mutual reduction in these rates, we’re going to 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.

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