Biden Commerce Chief Pledges to Help Businesses Export to China

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the Biden administration needs to help American businesses export to China and do business in the world’s second-largest economy, even as it protects workers from unfair practices and competition.

Much of her focus in the first 1 1/2 years on the job will be domestic, Raimondo said, touting Biden’s proposal for a $50 billion fund to build semiconductors and programs to retrain workers.

Still, “we do need to continue to have free markets,” she said. “Even with respect to China, we need to do business there, we need to export there.”

Biden Commerce Chief Pledges to Help Businesses Export to China

In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday for “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg Television, Raimondo paid a rare compliment to Biden’s predecessor. The Trump administration drew an essential focus to American competition with China, and Biden so far has kept steel tariffs in place, she said.

“Although we don’t agree with the way the Trump administration handled many things, they brought to light the fact that competition with China is serious, that it’s a strategic competition that will define our times,” she said. “President Biden agrees with that. So we are going to continue to play tough with China.”

The Biden administration is reviewing the policy toward China inherited from Donald Trump, including the so-called phase one agreement signed last year where China promised to purchase more American products. Beijing missed its 2020 trade-deal targets as the global pandemic upended shipping and supply chains.

The Trump administration also slapped tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on inward-bound shipments of aluminum from many countries including China three years ago, citing them as a national-security threat. While those tariffs also hit the European Union, Raimondo said that the Biden administration doesn’t consider the EU a national security threat and wants to work together to stop China’s oversupply.

Raimondo, 49, took over last month after serving as governor of Rhode Island since 2015 and previously as state treasurer. Before that, she spent more than a decade working in venture capital, including co-founding Point Judith Capital.

The Commerce Department comprises agencies touching on a broad swath of topics. They include:

  • the International Trade Administration, charged with monitoring unfair global competition from dumping and subsidies, as well as enforcing U.S. trade laws;
  • the Census Bureau, which runs the decennial count and compiles economic data;
  • the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, home to the National Weather Service and fisheries management;
  • and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“That’s what makes the job fun -- and hard,” Raimondo said. “I’d like to think if you put your back into it you can have a big impact across a whole range of topics.”

Raimondo was national co-chairwoman of Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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