Trade Minister Gina Raimondo says the US is clear about “how big the threat China poses”. Susan Walsh / AP Hide caption
Susan Walsh / AP
Susan Walsh / AP
When Gina Raimondo took on her role as trade secretary less than a month ago, she inherited a long list of things that deserve her attention: including the months-delayed 2020 census and a trade war that the Trump administration began with in China.
Now the Biden government must figure out whether to continue or end the fight. China aims to become “the world’s leading nation,” Biden told reporters Thursday during his presidency’s first press conference, but said, “it won’t happen on my watch.”
According to Raimondo, the beginning of the Biden administration marks a new chapter in US relations with Beijing.
“What you saw in the end is an arbitrary approach to dealing with China and tariffs as a whole,” Raimondo said in an interview with All Things Considered.
Right now, she says, President Biden is focused “on devising an entire strategy for protecting American workers, leveling the playing field for American businesses, and openly pushing back China, whose behavior threatens our security, prosperity and values.” . “
“We are very clear about the scale of the threat China poses and we are prepared,” she says.
The current trade war includes higher tariffs on steel and aluminum from China that have helped US companies in these industries.
But other American manufacturers – Whirlpool and Harley-Davidson, for example – have complained that tariffs have increased their costs and reduced profits, Raimondo admits.
“I hear from a lot of automakers or consumer companies that it’s gotten tougher,” she says, adding that she plans to review the process to allow tariff exclusions to help US companies that use raw material .
Another area Raimondo focuses on is technology and how China’s behavior threatens US national and economic security. One way to counter this is to invest more at home, says Raimondo. Semiconductors, for example, are a sector where the US has fallen behind, according to Raimondo. “We need to invest in more manufacturing in America and more technology in America,” she says.
To compete with China, which Raimondo describes as a “defining feature” of the Biden administration, the US must also repair ties with allies that were broken during the Trump administration, she says.
“You cannot gloss over the damage that President Trump has done by alienating some of our allies,” says Raimondo.
The trade secretary has spent her first few weeks in office speaking to her colleagues in Europe, Canada and Mexico.
“They are open to the message that it is a new day in America and that we want to renew these alliances,” she says.
Elena Burnett and Courtney Dorning produced and edited the audio interview.