White House says discussing ‘irresponsible’ tariffs imposed by Trump

By Nandita Bose and Trevor Hunnicutt

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) -The White House is discussing possible changes to some “irresponsible” tariffs imposed on Chinese goods by former President Donald Trump that raised costs on U.S. families and businesses, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

She said internal discussions were continuing, but gave no details on President Joe Biden’s thinking about possible tariff reductions – a move experts say could contribute to the administration’s urgent efforts to combat inflation.

Trump imposed tariffs of up to 25% on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports, including many consumer goods from bicycles to Bluetooth devices and apparel.

Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration had long noted that some of those Trump-era tariffs were “irresponsible and did not advance our national security,” resulting instead in higher costs for U.S. consumers and businesses.

“We’re discussing this, and working to align these haphazard tariffs and our priorities to safeguard the interests of our workers and critical industries,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Philadelphia for a union convention.

Biden has told aides that he is inclined to cute some of the tariffs on Chinese goods, but asked for detailed analysis and options in recent weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter. A decision is expected soon.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week told lawmakers that the administration was actively looking to “reconfigure” tariffs on Chinese imports but warned that such cuts would not be a “panacea” for easing high inflation.

She said administration officials were examining changes to the “Section 301” tariffs on Chinese goods and to the process for product-specific exclusions from those duties.

Yellen said that while some tariff cuts may be warranted and could help bring down some consumer prices, they would have a limited effect on overall inflation, now at its highest in over 40 years.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose, Trevor Hunnicutt and Andrea ShalalEditing by Tomasz Janowski)