President Joe Biden appeared to be moving closer to removing some products from the Trump administration's China tariffs list, Axios reported Tuesday.
Biden, desperate to act with inflation at a 40-year high of 8.6%, was leaning toward ordering the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to run a formal "exclusions process" to determine if some consumer items, such as bicycles, should be exempted from the Section 301 tariffs, sources told Axios.
The president was less likely to include big industrial items, such as steel and aluminum.
Biden indicated his thinking a week ago in a meeting with key Cabinet officials, Axios reported.
"No decision has been made," a White House spokesperson told Axios. "The President is discussing with his team on ensuring that tariffs are aligned with our economic and strategic priorities, such as safeguarding the interests of workers and critical industries, advancing our national security, and not unnecessarily raising costs on Americans."
Biden last week in Tokyo said he was weighing the elimination of tariffs on Chinese goods that were imposed by the Trump administration.
"I am considering it; we did not impose any of those tariffs — they were imposed by the last administration, and they're under consideration," Biden said then.
The goal in pursuing that course of action, even if it seemed to be weak on China, would be to show an attempt to bring down prices months before the midterm elections.
The impact of removing all of Trump's tariffs on imports from China, though, might lower the Consumer Price Index (CPI) by only 0.26 percentage points, according to one study.
While many experts say it's the Federal Reserve's job to tackle inflation, Biden can act unilaterally to try and help consumers by attacking the tariffs that cover $350 billion of goods imported from China.
Labor representatives, however, privately have warned the White House against relaxing any of the tariffs, the outlet reported.
The labor movement has told Biden, who is scheduled to address the AFL-CIO's Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia today, it expects him to keep all of Trump's tariffs in place, Axios reported.
Some labor officials were frustrated last week when Biden used his emergency powers to waive any potential trade penalties for solar developers importing panels from four southeast Asia countries.
"Our government must act in the national interest to strengthen our economy for the future," labor leaders wrote Biden, Axios said.
Biden economic officials have been debating with other administration members such as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who want to maintain leverage on China.
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