There's a quick move President Biden could make to immediately help relieve the stress the pandemic-related supply chain crisis is having on US companies: Lift the tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump.
Trump put tariffs on roughly $350 billion of Chinese-made goods — and despite the change in administrations, those duties remain in place. American importers have paid more than $106 billion to cover the cost of those levies to date, and many of them are now facing skyrocketing shipping costs.
While the Biden administration has been conducting a comprehensive review of the US-China trade policy, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai only outlined a new strategy to counter what she described as China’s “unfair” and “state-centered” trade policy earlier this month. She also said the US government would begin a targeted tariff exclusion process, but the majority of tariffs will remain in place.
Now the pressure on the Biden administration to address the issue is ramping up, as supply chain problems are getting worse — resulting in shortages and higher prices for everything from sneakers to furniture to cars.
"Tariff relief is a fast and easy way to help companies hurt most by the shipping crisis stay in business and keep people employed," said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Association of Apparel and Footwear.
The trade association sent a letter to the office of the US Trade Representative in September imploring the administration to provide relief from the tariffs. It was followed by a similar request from four major manufacturing associations, acknowledging that the supply chain disruptions will require long-term fixes, but argue that tariff removal could provide some immediate relief.
The supply chain problems, compounded with the trade distortions created by the duties "are hurting the competitiveness of US manufacturers and stalling the US economic recovery," the groups wrote.
Read more about the tariffs here.