As President Joe Biden debates whether to lift Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports, his cabinet is split over a politically fraught issue that could influence the November congressional midterm elections.
When he entered office, Biden suggested that he was in no rush to remove the tariffs that Donald Trump had placed on more than $300bn of Chinese goods during his trade war with Beijing.
Yet as inflation has soared to 8.6 per cent, the White House is debating whether lifting some tariffs would help provide some relief to US consumers.
While Biden is desperate to help consumers, he wants to avoid a backlash before the midterm elections from lawmakers who view cutting tariffs as being weak on China.
“It does seem very messy in terms of the messaging about the tariffs because you have various administration officials saying pretty different things,” said Emily Kilcrease, a former USTR official now at CNAS, a think-tank.
“Given the fact that the messiness is clear in the public domain, I can only imagine what the internal debate is like.”
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