Repealing Trump-era trade tariffs would throw a lifeline to struggling businesses

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Since being inaugurated, President Joe Biden has successfully delivered his campaign promise to provide economic relief to the American people. One of the ways his administration will continue to do that is by putting together a strong cabinet of officials who are serving in some of the most important roles for our country.

One of New York’s own, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, has also been working diligently to effectively carry out Biden’s agenda in the Senate and swiftly confirm the president’s nominees.

One of the most critical positions is the United States Trade Representative. President Biden picked Katherine Tai to serve in this role, and Ms. Tai is a strong choice for this position given her past work on negotiating trade agreements and with her experience as the chief trade lawyer on the House Ways and Means Committee. She also previously worked in the Office of the United States Trade Representative from 2007-2014 and prosecuted many cases on Chinese trade practices at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Considering her qualifications, it is no surprise that the Senate Finance Committee recently voted unanimously in favor of her confirmation.

Given that the Office of the USTR is responsible for recommending, implementing, and overseeing the nation’s trade policies, which have a huge impact on small businesses throughout the country, it is crucial that Ms. Tai focuses her attention on putting America’s best interests first—something that the previous administration failed to do.

The Trump administration’s USTR, Robert Lighthizer, spent his time in office implementing new tariffs and carrying out the President’s reckless trade war with China and our allies in countries throughout Europe and Asia. As a result of the trade war with China, American businesses, farmers, manufacturers, and consumers have been forced to pay over $80 billion in tariffs, which are taxes paid by Americans directly to the federal government. Section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel have also been incredibly devastating to American workers and manufacturers. All in all, these tariffs have harmed Americans who are just trying to stay afloat and save their businesses in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to the negative impact that businesses and farmers have endured because of Trump’s trade war, the U.S. manufacturing industry has also been devastated. This damage can be easily reversed under the Biden administration. Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University who studies manufacturing, has said that “If the next administration was able to end the trade wars, to eliminate tariffs and to continue to stop essentially taxing Americans for buying foreign goods, I think we would see a big explosion in manufacturing in the United States and really boost the prospects of a recovery.”

This is exactly why President Biden and the new leadership in the Office of the USTR must work together with Congressional leaders like Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to prioritize repealing tariffs and ending the harmful trade war with China. If the Biden administration wants to send a message to the tens of millions of Americans who rely heavily on trade, it should lift the Trump-era tariffs immediately. By doing so, the administration can provide immediate relief to the people who have been struggling since the trade war began, allowing them to shift their focus to recovering from the coronavirus pandemic instead of focusing on the negative impact that tariffs have caused.

Trade is vital to keeping America’s economy strong, and I have full confidence that Katherine Tai will prove to be a champion for American farmers, businesses, and manufacturers, and will focus her efforts on repealing the tariffs and ending the trade war.

Rick Miranda is president and CEO of the Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.