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Tariffs on Chinese goods hurting American firms, workers: US lawmakers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture taken on August 7, 2018 shows a truck (C) transporting a container next to stacked containers at a port in Zhangjiagang in China.

US tariffs on Chinese goods are hurting American firms and workers, more than 140 members of Congress have said in a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

In their letter on Thursday, the lawmakers urged Tai to immediately revive and expand a tariff exclusion process on Chinese goods to help US manufacturers.

They said her current proposal to relaunch exclusions for a limited number of Chinese imports subject to “Section 301” is too narrow.

The tariffs paid since a broader exclusion program lapsed a year ago have hurt American companies and workers, they added.

“These increased costs are undermining the competitiveness of American manufacturing workers whose inputs are now more expensive compared to those made by foreign competitors,” said the lawmakers.

“Sadly, the Section 301 tariffs have broadly impacted US businesses in the manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, retail, energy, technology, and services industries,” noted the lawmakers led by Democrats Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Suzan DelBene of Washington and Republicans Darin LaHood of Illinois and Jackie Walorski of Indiana.

Last October, Tai announced a new strategy to push China on trade commitments. As part of the announcement, USTR sought public comments on a narrow list of exclusions for 549 Chinese import categories, which include industrial components, thermostats, medical supplies, bicycles and textiles.

The lawmakers, however, said this was too narrow as it covers only 1 percent of original exclusion applications, and the lapse of previous exclusions have worsened challenges to businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

“Given this, we strongly urge the USTR to expand its exclusion process as quickly as possible to give American workers, businesses, and families badly needed economic relief,” the lawmakers wrote.

They also called for a longer period of retroactivity for the exclusions before October 12, 2021.

The letter comes after President Joe Biden on Wednesday said it was too soon to make commitments on lifting US tariffs on Chinese goods.

Last week, the Asian country said it hopes the United States can create conditions to expand trade cooperation.

Relations between the US and China have been strained over a range of issues from trade to security to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a virtual summit in November, it produced no significant breakthroughs.

In the same month, China lashed out at the US for its decision to add dozens of Chinese companies to a trade blacklist, saying the move violated a consensus reached between Biden and Xi.

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