Financial Post | 11 January 2022
US Chamber calls for new US trade deals, China strategy
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday called on the Biden administration to pursue more international trade deals and articulate a coherent strategy to compete and cooperate with China, marking a shift from past demands to reduce tariffs.
Suzanne Clark, who took over as president of the largest American business lobbying group last March, urged a U.S. return to the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and to complete trade negotiations with Britain after a decade without a major new trade pact.
“On trade, our nation is standing still, which means that we’re falling behind,” she told reporters after a speech on Chamber priorities for 2022.
She said that China’s just-launched trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will cut tariffs among 15 countries and put U.S. exporters at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, the European Union continues to forge new trade deals and China, Britain, South Korea and Taiwan are seeking to join the TPP, the Pacific Rim trade deal agreed by the Obama administration but abandoned by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.
The push for more trade deals comes as a senior White House official last week said the United States needed to “step up its game” on economic engagement in Asia.
The Chamber has long complained about the detrimental effects of punitive U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration, but Clark instead emphasized the need for a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with China.
“What we need is the U.S. government to have a cohesive strategy about how we are confronting China on regulatory practices and human rights abuses, and at the same time that we’re able to compete to sell into that marketplace, and to cooperate on issues like sustainability,” she said.
A two-year “Phase 1” U.S.-China trade pact requiring increased Chinese purchases of U.S. goods expired at the end of 2021, leaving questions over how the Biden administration will hold China to commitments that have not been met, as well as tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports.
(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)