Fact Sheet: The Biden-Harris Administration’s New Approach to the U.S. – China Trade Relationship

October 04, 2021

Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to restore the backbone of this country, the middle class. His North Star will always be a simple question: what is best for American workers and interests? We welcome competition with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). We have also been clear that competition needs to be fair and managed responsibly. Our objective is to create a level playing field for American workers, farmers, and businesses.

President Biden and his Administration are clear-eyed that Beijing is resistant to making meaningful reforms to address concerns shared by the U.S. and many other countries about the distortions to the global market from its state-centered economic system. Just like the President said we would, we spent our first months in office positioning the United States to build on our strengths by investing in our domestic renewal and revitalizing our alliances and partnerships abroad. Building on the American Rescue Plan, the Administration’s focus on supply chain resilience, and our investments in our technological leadership, we are working closely with Congress to move the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda forward.

While making significant progress on those two fronts, the Biden administration undertook a comprehensive, thoughtful USTR-led, whole-of-government review of the bilateral trade relationship. The previous administration’s unilateral approach alienated our allies and partners and hurt select sectors of the American economy. We want to bring deliberative, long-term thinking to our approach. Our objective is not to escalate trade tensions with China or double down on the previous Administration’s flawed strategy. 

Today, we are announcing the initial steps we will take to re-align our trade policies towards the PRC around OUR priorities: 

•    First, we will discuss with China its performance under the Phase One Agreement. China made commitments that do benefit certain American industries, including agriculture that we must enforce.  President Biden will continue to promote our economic interests – and build confidence for American industry. 

•    Second, while pursuing Phase One enforcement, we will restart our targeted tariff exclusions process to mitigate the effects of certain Section 301 tariffs that raised costs on Americans.

•    Third, we continue to have serious concerns with the PRC that were not addressed in the Phase One deal, specifically related to its state-centered and non-market trade practices including Beijing's non-market policies and practices that distort competition by propping up state-owned enterprises, limiting market access, and other coercive and predatory practices in trade and technology. 

Even as we work to enforce the terms of Phase One, we will raise our broader concerns with Beijing's non-market policies and practices like abuse of state-owned enterprises, anti-competitive behavior and subsidies, the theft of American intellectual property directly and in coordination with our allies and partners. We will defend American economic interests using the full range of tools we have and by developing new tools as needed. 

    And lastly, we know that we cannot do it alone. We will continue consulting and coordinating with allies and partners who share our strong interest in ensuring that the terms of competition are fair, work collectively to set the rules of the road for trade and technology in the 21st century, and strengthen the global market for our workers and businesses. 

This work with our allies and partners is already bearing fruit, as evidenced by efforts at the G7, the US-EU Summit, the Quad, the OECD, and the TTC. The Boeing-Airbus deal struck in June of this year is just one example of how this commitment to work with our allies creates more opportunity to sell American products. We will accelerate this progress and look forward to continuing the conversations with our likeminded allies and partners about the impact the PRC’s non-market practices have on them, and how we can work together to find solutions.