US reviewing punitive trade tariffs on China, says Hillary Clinton

SINGAPORE – Former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US is reviewing the punitive trade tariffs imposed on China by the Trump administration and predicted that some may be removed or lowered.

Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum on Friday (Nov 19), she said: “I know that there is an ongoing process as we to try to figure out what would be the best approach with respect to the tariffs.

“And I would predict that there will be some changes, but they will not all disappear, because some of them, in this new reality we’re living in, may well be continued.”

The tariffs, first imposed in 2018 by the Trump administration, cover nearly two-thirds of the Chinese exports to the US. Beijing imposes tariffs on just over half of US exports to China.

The trade war has resulted in higher taxes on imports for both sides.

Mrs Clinton, who spoke via video link, said some of the tariffs, particularly those on agricultural goods, have “maybe hurt us for the foreseeable future” and added that an effort was under way to reconsider all tariffs.

She was speaking during a panel on “Great Power Competition: The Emerging World Order” about the competition between the US and China and how the world will react.

Mrs Clinton said the US had to check China’s aggressive military build-up in the Asia-Pacific, noting that the administration has worked to create a visible alliance of democratic nations in the region.

In the past months, the US has strengthened the Quad security grouping that includes Australia, India and Japan, and also gone into the new Aukus strategic defence alliance with Australia and Britain that will see Australia build nuclear-powered submarines.

Mrs Clinton said US and China will have to cooperate on a range of issues, but added: “We also cannot permit the kind of aggressive military build-up, the kind of efforts to dominate maritime navigation, the intimidation of nations in the larger Asia-Pacific region.”

China’s behaviour has also raised tensions with India, said fellow panellist, India Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Deadly clashes and military build-ups along the disputed Himalayan border of the two Asian powers have plunged relations to a low point.

Mr Jaishankar said: “We are going through a particularly bad patch in our relationship because they’ve taken a set of actions in violation of agreements for which they still don’t have a credible explanation.”

He added that he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on India’s position and that “if they want to hear it, I’m sure they would have heard it”.

He also said that China’s behaviour “appears to indicate some rethink about where they want to take our relationship, but that’s for them to answer”.

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