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Farm groups urge lifting of China tariffs as senators urge their retention

A coalition of 40 food, agriculture and shipping groups today urged Trade Representative Katherine Tai to suspend, reduce or eliminate Section 301 tariffs while a bipartisan coalition of nine senators urged the retention of tariffs on China.

The Biden administration is reviewing the tariffs amid pressure to reduce them as part of an effort to reduce inflation.

“Tariff relief could not come at a more important time,” the ag and food leaders wrote under the banner of Farmers for Free Trade. “Rural America and small businesses are facing significant challenges due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, logistical and supply chain disruptions, cord levels of inflation, and the increasing impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Our businesses are faced with surging fuel prices, skyrocketing fertilizer and other input costs, and continued uncertainty in the global market. With so many challenges threatening our livelihood, removal of tariffs on food and agriculture inputs and removal of burdensome retaliatory tariffs would provide immediate relief to America’s food producers.”



“By rolling back 301 and 232 tariffs and eliminating retaliatory tariffs, you can increase market access for U.S. food and agriculture exports and reduce costs for critical machinery, fertilizer, agricultural chemicals and other food and agriculture inputs,” the letter said. “These efforts would have an immediate effect and would ease the uncertainty felt by all rural America.”

But nine senators led by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, wrote President Biden that he should not lift the tariffs on China.



“We write to express our continued support for the trade action taken against China pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974,” the senators wrote. “We share long-standing concerns about the ways in which China’s acts, policies, and practices have discriminated against U.S. exports and contributed to the offshoring of U.S. jobs, manufacturing, and innovation, all of which has undermined the competitiveness of our country. As you consider the future of the Section 301 action, we urge you to substantially maintain the tariffs in their current form. Rolling back the tariffs on China would undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the United States is preferable to changing their non-market behavior or complying with the Phase One Agreement.”

They continued, “Rather than lifting the tariffs, the United States should use the enforcement tools guaranteed by that agreement to make clear that we are serious about rectifying its violations. We need to make clear to China that dialogue leads to commitments — and failure to adhere to these commitments are followed by robust enforcement. If we do not exercise the legal rights under the Phase One Agreement, it will only make it more difficult to make progress with China on the subsidies, state-owned enterprises, suppression of labor rights, and other unfair behaviors that are the core of the structural obstacles to a level playing field in bilateral trade.”

Along with Portman, senators who signed onto the letter include Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

–The Hagstrom Report

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