Biden Unlikely to Quickly Unwind China Tariffs, Democrat Says

President-elect Joe Biden isn’t likely to quickly unwind the tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed on Chinese imports, said Delaware Senator Chris Coons, a close ally of the incoming leader.

“I would not expect the president-elect to simply just take off all the tariffs and try to take us back to where we were in 2016,” Coons said at a security conference Friday. “I would expect him to begin by consulting with our close and trusted allies, like the United Kingdom, like Canada, before moving forward.”

Coons, who appeared at the Halifax International Security Forum, said he was not speaking for Biden or the transition team but was outlining what he saw as Biden’s likely course of action based on their relationship and Biden’s long experience working in foreign relations as a senator and vice president.

Coons, a Democrat, represents the same state Biden did when he was a senator and is one of the president-elect’s biggest boosters in Congress. His expectations on tariffs match those of outside China watchers, who don’t anticipate a major change in the short term.

One area where there may be change is in the U.S. relationship with other trading partners.

“I would not expect to see national security-justified tariffs on close and trusted allies as were imposed against Canada, the U.K. and others -- Japan and South Korea -- that I think created needless tension in our relationships,” Coons said.

The senator added that he thought “Trump was right” to take on China, but that the U.S. needs to project power in the region “more effectively” and “re-engage and re-energize our global network of allies.”

Biden would face some push-back if he moved to lift China tariffs, which have bipartisan support in Congress. So far, he hasn’t committed one way or the other.

He has said he’ll immediately review all of Trump’s trade actions and called the president’s approach to tariffs “short-sighted and destructive.”

“I will use tariffs when they are needed, but the difference between me and Trump is that I will have a strategy—a plan—to use those tariffs to win, not just to fake toughness,” Biden said in response to a questionnaire from United Steelworkers, a labor union.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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