July 30, 2018
As trade tensions escalate between the Trump administration and Beijing, the U.S. Senate with little fanfare passed legislation on July 26 that would lower trade barriers on hundreds of items made in China, CNBC reported. A version of that bill already had passed unanimously in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
With no debate, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would cut or eliminate tariffs on toasters, chemicals—and roughly 1,660 other items made outside the United States, the business news network said. Nearly half of those items are produced in China, based on a Reuters analysis of government records.
The move is meant to neutralize a 25% tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese goods that Trump announced in mid-June—as well as a subsequent move by China to impose a 25% retaliatory tariff on $34 billion worth of U.S. goods, including agricultural products and U.S.-made cars.
In June, CNN reported that Trump meant his tariffs on Chinese goods to penalize Beijing for stealing American technology and trade secrets. The news network said that the “tariff is targeted towards the Chinese aerospace, robotics, manufacturing and auto industries.”
According to CNBC, the White House has not publicly taken a position on the so-called Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018. The Senate and House now need to resolve minor differences before they can send the legislation to President Trump to sign into law.
The National Association of Manufacturers has said U.S. businesses pay $1 million a day on such import duties. In a statement, NAM urged passage of the act, “to eliminate unfair, out-of-date, distortive, and anticompetitive taxes on manufacturers.”
When asked in an April 11 Quinnipiac poll if they would support or oppose “raising tariffs on products imported from China, if it causes China to raise tariffs on American products,” 51% of U.S. adults nationwide said they would oppose the tariffs and 40% said they would support them. There was a partisan divide in the results, with two-thirds of Republicans supporting Trump’s actions.
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