Leading US unions have reportedly pressed for the Biden administration not to relax tariffs on Chinese goods, a move Washington sees as something that should help contain soaring inflation in America.
In an official letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative on Monday that was seen by the news outlet Axios, the unions’ leaders called for all Section 301 tariffs regarding China to be extended.
“Our government must act in the national interest to strengthen our economy for the future,” reads the letter, signed by Thomas Conway, chair of the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy.
The document comes after US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN on Sunday that the Biden administration is considering easing tariffs on some Chinese goods in a bid to contain inflation in the US, where it hit a 40-year high in March and is expected to escalate in the coming months.
“We are looking at it. In fact, the president has asked us on his team to analyse that. And so we are in the process of doing that for him and he will have to make that decision,” she said when asked whether tariffs on Chinese products would be relaxed.
According to the secretary, the Biden administration decided to keep some of the tariffs for steel and aluminium to protect American workers and industry as a “matter of national security”. However, she added, there are products, such as household goods, bicycles and so on, where the lowering of fees seems reasonable.
The remarks followed retailers urging Biden to lift the tariffs amid a significant uptick in prices in order to stop record-setting inflation in the US, where it hit a 40-year high in March and is expected to escalate in the coming months.
“Consumers and businesses continue to feel the pain of higher prices across the board from everyday goods and services to rent and groceries and gas,” National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay wrote in a letter to Biden in May.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, for her part, recently admitted to being wrong in her assessments of inflation trends in March 2021, when she predicted that the spike in the US inflation was “transitory” and prompted by the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Also in May, President Biden rolled out Washington’s new three-part plan to tackle inflation levels in his op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), describing the matter as his “top economic priority”.
The blueprint, which mainly urged the Federal Reserve and Congress to grapple with the issue, was slammed members of Biden’s own party as lacklustre. House Democrat Ro Khanna, for his part, stressed he supports “the president’s efforts” to tackle inflation, but that the Biden administration needs “a bolder vision and faster action”.
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