President Joe Biden's new U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is not ready to lift the Trump administration's tariffs on Chinese goods.
"I have heard people say, 'Please just take these tariffs off,'" Tai, who earned 98-0 support in her Senate confirmation, told The Wall Street Journal.
Before "yanking off tariffs," though, Tai added it needs to be "communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments."
"Whether they are companies, traders [or] manufacturers, the ability to plan" is important, she added.
There is also an advantage to the tariffs in negotiations on a potential new trade deal, she noted.
"No negotiator walks away from leverage, right?" she said.
Tai, just 47, is the first Asian-American and the first woman of color to serve as U.S. trade representative.
"What is extraordinary about our country is that someone like myself, who was born here, a child of immigrants from Asia, has been tapped on the basis of my experience and my qualifications to represent our country around the world," she told the Journal.
"I don't think I'll see too many counterparts from other countries with profiles like mine."
Former President Donald Trump sought multiple phases of trade deals with China, before the global coronavirus pandemic, using about $370 billion of tariffs on China annually as leverage.
China responded with $110 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods, which was an even higher percentage of what the U.S. exports to China, according to the Journal.
China has failed to reach its promises made to the Trump administration on the purchasing U.S. goods, particularly agriculture, Peterson Institute for International Economics' Chad Bown told the Journal.
"Higher tariffs alone, hastily imposed without careful analysis, have been ineffective in prompting China to reform its practices while causing serious economic harm to U.S. companies," the Tariff Reform Coalition contends, according to the Journal.
Tai echoed Trump's contention tariffs are intended to "to remedy an unbalanced and unfair trade situation."
"Every good negotiator retains his or her leverage to use it," she told the Journal. "Every good negotiator is going to keep all of their options open."
Notably, Tai is a former staffer of the House Ways and Means Committee that helped craft the Trump administration's U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replace NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).
"This trade representative with Chinese blood has always been a woman who is not friendly to China," a Chinese official posted on social media earlier this month.
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