Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen said Wednesday the Biden administration could lift some tariffs on Chinese imports but warned it would not be a cure-all for the nation’s 40-year-high inflation.
Yellen told a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that the Biden administration is looking to reconfigure some tariffs on Chinese goods imposed under President Trump to make product-specific exclusions.
She said that more information on the tariff plans should be available in the coming weeks, adding that such changes were ‘under active consideration.’
Trump imposed tariffs of up to 25 percent on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
On Sunday Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Biden has directed her and other administration officials to look into possible plans to lift some tariffs on Chinese imports. She said the administration had decided to leave tariffs in place on steel and aluminum to protect the domestic steel industry, but added it ‘may make sense’ to lift tariffs on products like household goods and bicycles.
‘I believe some of the tariffs…really ended up being paid by Americans, not by the Chinese, hurt American consumers and businesses,’ Yellen added Wednesday.
Yellen is among the voices within Biden’s administration who want to ease tariffs, putting her at odds with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai who wants to leave them in place until the Biden administration has a broader strategy to protect American jobs and combat unfair Chinese trade practices.
Tai insisted on Monday that inflation is ‘a more complicated issue than just tariffs at the border.’
Yellen said that tariff cuts may help bring down some consumer prices, but would have a limited effect on inflation overall, now running at 8.3 percent year-over-year as of April.
‘I want to make clear I honestly don’t think tariff policy is a panacea with respect to inflation,’ Yellen stressed. ‘Goods account for only a third of consumption and it’s not clear exactly what the incidence and pass through would be’ from tariff cuts to consumers.
According to one study, eliminating the tariffs could eventually lead to about a 1 percent reduction in inflation.
And as the Biden administration mulls the tariff cut, labor unions on Monday filed an official comment with the U.S. Trade Representative to urge Biden to keep in place the tar…