Yellen says cutting some tariffs on Chinese goods could ease price pressures

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen answers questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen answers questions during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 23, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday that lowering Trump-era tariffs on imported goods from China through a revived exclusion process could help ease some inflationary pressures, but would be no "game-changer."

Yellen told the Reuters Next conference that she thinks the tariffs of up to 25% on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of annual imports from China "do contribute to higher prices in the United States."

"And the Trump tariffs that were put in place, some of them create problems without having any real strategic justification," she added.

Previous product-specific exclusions from tariffs on Chinese goods had expired at the end of 2020, but U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has launched a new, targeted tariff exclusion process as part of her engagement with Chinese officials on the "Phase 1" trade deal signed in early 2020.

Yellen cited the exclusion process among other steps where the Biden administration is working to mitigate price pressures, including working with ports and private companies to unblock supply chains and keep products flowing to consumers.

"This is a process by which tariffs can be lowered. And I think that that could be helpful," she said of the tariff exclusion process. "Again, it's not a game changer. But these are things we're doing to try to mitigate these pressures."

Yellen said she does not currently have a visit to China on her agenda, but expects to continue to engage with her counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, on a range of economic issues.

These include China's technology practices, securities markets, exchange rate practices and China's efforts to rebalance its economy towards more personal consumption.

She said the latter "could make a big contribution to mitigating global imbalances. These are all topics that we've been discussing, and I expect those dialogues to continue."

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Reporting by Alessandra Galloni, David Lawder, Andrea Shalal and Daniel Burns; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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