U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the U.S. does not have plans to lift tariffs on China in the near future, but signaled a potential openness to trade negotiations in Beijing.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the first since her Senate confirmation, Tai said she understands that tariffs could have an adverse effect on U.S. businesses and consumers, but also recognized the stance among some that the taxes help protect companies from subsidized foreign competition.
“I have heard people say, ‘Please just take these tariffs off,'” Tai told The Journal. She added, though, that “yanking off tariffs” could hurt the economy unless the change is “communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments.”
“Whether they are companies, traders, manufacturers or their workers, the ability to plan” for changes that influence their future is essential, she added.
Tai also pointed to the tactical reason for keeping tariffs on China, calling them “leverage.”
“No negotiator walks away from leverage, right?” she said.
Tai was unanimously confirmed to her post on March 17, making her the first woman of color and the first Asian American to serve as the nation’s chief trade negotiator.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. placed tariffs on approximately $370 billion of goods from China annually, or about 75 percent of its exports to the U.S. by value, The Journal reported. These tariffs were placed as part of a trade war with the goal of persuading China to drop its trade barriers.
In response, China placed tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. goods.