China’s war games around Taiwan have led Biden administration officials to recalibrate their thinking on whether to scrap some tariffs or potentially impose others on Beijing, setting those options aside for now, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.
President Joe Biden’s team has been wrestling for months with various ways to ease the costs of duties imposed on Chinese imports during predecessor Donald Trump’s tenure, as it tries to tamp down skyrocketing inflation.
It has considered a combination of eliminating some tariffs, launching a new “Section 301” investigation into potential areas for additional tariffs, and expanding a list of tariff exclusions to aid US companies that can only get certain supplies from China.
Biden has not made a decision on the issue and all options remain on the table, the White House said.
The tariffs make Chinese imports more expensive for US companies, which, in turn, make products cost more for consumers. Bringing down inflation is a major goal for Biden, a Democrat, ahead of the November midterm elections, which could shift control of one or both houses of Congress to Republicans.
But Beijing’s response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week to Taiwan triggered a recalculation by administration officials, who are eager not to do anything that could be viewed by China as an escalation while also seeking to avoid being seen as retreating in the face of the communist country’s aggression.
China’s military for days took part in ballistic missile launches and simulated attacks on the self-ruled island of Taiwan that China claims as its own.
“I think Taiwan has changed everything,” said one source familiar with the latest developments in the process, details of which have not been previously reported.