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Keep the Trump Tariffs, Keep the Pressure on China

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April 27, 2022 12:42 pm ET

Containers at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port in Shanghai, Oct. 19, 2020.

Photo: Aly Song/REUTERS

Regarding your editorial “Cut Tariffs to Help Inflation and Ukraine” (April 18): First, President Trump’s tariffs on China were put in place as a result of a rigorous legal process and are designed to counter serious unfair and predatory practices. The U.S. is being threatened in the economic sphere by a dangerous and increasingly aggressive adversary. Rolling back the tariffs would essentially give the adversary a pass to cheat and cost many Americans their jobs. The China challenge is more important to the long-term prosperity and security of our country than the current inflation.

Second, the notion that these tariffs are inflationary, regardless of the economic benefit from challenging Chinese behavior, is questionable at best. The tariffs were in place for two years during the Trump administration and there was no significant inflation. I know that economists have their concocted models but that is the reality.

There are other economists who have studied the tariffs and concluded the opposite of the one cited in the editorial. They have found the tariffs are not a significant cause of this problem. Inflation today is highest in the fuel, food, used-cars and some services sectors. None of these is imported from China.

Inflation is a serious problem, but it wasn’t caused by tariffs and it must be fought in the usual ways—monetary policy, fiscal policy, energy policy, etc. Surrendering to China should not be part of the strategy.

Robert Lighthizer

Palm Beach, Fla.

Mr. Lighthizer was U.S. trade representative (2017-21).

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