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Biden Delays Decision on China Tariffs Put in Place by Trump

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden is holding back on a decision to scrap any Trump-era tariffs on China imports, while the administration studies ways to help businesses seeking relief, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Biden earlier in the summer had signed off on a new exclusion process for exemptions from tariffs on manufacturing materials imported from China, but has delayed making a final decision for now, three of the people said.

The Office of the US Trade Representative announced a tariff review last Friday that will allow businesses the opportunity to seek relief by weighing in on whether they think any particular tariff is costing US jobs or competitiveness, one administration official said.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss evolving policy.

The White House declined to comment on Wednesday night.

While the tariffs on Chinese goods are a holdover from former President Donald Trump’s aggressive actions against Beijing, the Biden administration has kept them in place as a kind of leverage against what the US sees as its key strategic and economic rival.

Any decision before the US midterm elections in November poses domestic and international risks to Biden and fellow Democrats, with little upside expected in a move that may be seen benefiting China and its president, Xi Jinping.

The considerations unfold amid tensions with Beijing, including military pressure on Taiwan, an October leadership congress in China in which Xi is expected to solidify his power, and difficult negotiations over a proposed Biden and Xi meeting this fall. Both leaders are scheduled to attend the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November.

The duties, which began piling up in 2018, span imports from industrial inputs, such as microchips and chemicals, to consumer merchandise including apparel and furniture. Administration officials earlier this year had considered lifting some tariffs as way to ease inflation, but there was no consensus on how effective that move would be.

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