Biden’s team says it will use ‘all available tools’ to fight China’s unfair trade practices

Biden’s team says it will use ‘all available tools’ to fight China’s unfair trade practices

The U.S. flag flies at a welcoming ceremony between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017.

Thomas Peter | Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s team will use “all available tools” to fight China’s unfair trade practices, according to a report outlining the new U.S. administration’s trade agenda.

The document released on Monday did not specify the tools that the administration will use, but it formalized statements made by Biden and members of his team in the last few months on how they will handle China and other trade priorities.

“Addressing the China challenge will require a comprehensive strategy and more systematic approach than the piecemeal approach of the recent past,” read the report.

“The Biden Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. trade policy toward China as part of its development of its overall China strategy,” it added.

The report outlined a few “detrimental actions” from China, such as barriers to restrict market access, “government-sanctioned forced labor programs” as well as unfair subsidies.

“They also include coercive technology transfers, illicit acquisition and infringement of American intellectual property, censorship and other restrictions on the internet and digital economy, and a failure to provide treatment to American firms in numerous sectors comparable to the treatment Chinese firms receive in those sectors in the United States,” the report said.

Collaboration with allies

Biden’s administration will cooperate with partners and allies to make sure that China lives up to its trade obligations, the report said.

The administration will also make it “a top priority” to address China’s alleged forced labor programs that target Uighur Muslims and other minority groups, said the report.

The release of the report comes as Katherine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, awaits Senate confirmation.

Tai said on Monday she would work to address a range of issues concerning Chinese trade and economic practices — including intellectual property protection, market access restrictions and censorship, reported Reuters.

She said she would explore “a wide range of options” to address those problems, including through bilateral talks but “will not hesitate to act if those talks prove ineffective,” the news agency reports.

Tai made those comments in written answers to senators’ questions following her confirmation hearing last week.  

U.S.-China trade fight

If confirmed, Tai will inherit a long list of unresolved trade and tariff disputes from former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The list includes elevated tariffs that the U.S. and China slapped on each other’s goods during Trump’s term, as well as China’s lagging purchases of U.S. goods under the “phase one” trade deal.

During her confirmation hearing last week, Tai said tariffs are a “legitimate tool” to counter China’s state-driven economic model, reported Reuters. But she did not threaten new tariffs, and said China needs to live up to its commitments under the phase one deal, the news agency reported.

The trade pact signed by the U.S. and China last year put a pause to a tariff fight that threatened the global economy. Among other things, the deal requires China to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods and services on top of its 2017 purchases.

China has so far failed to buy the required amounts of American goods stipulated by the trade agreement, data compiled by think tank Peterson Institute of International Economics showed.