US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gestures while interacting with students and teachers at a school on the sidelines of a G20 finance ministers’ summit in Gandhinagar on July 16, 2023. — AFP

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday dismissed the idea to lift Trump-era tariffs on China but urged for the de-escalation of tensions between Beijing and Washington, reported Bloomberg.

“It would be useful to look for ways to de-escalate over time,” Yellen told reporters in Gandhinagar, India. The US official is in India to meet her Group of Seven (G7) counterparts from around the world this week.

The US treasury chief said that a four-year review of the tariffs imposed on China was near completion and that she had brought up the issue during her recent trip to Beijing. But any move to lift the tariffs this year would lead to a political reaction at home as the Republican party makes a bid to take back the White House from Joe Biden.

“The tariffs were put in place because we had a concern with unfair trade practices on China’s side — and our concerns with those practices remains,” she said. “So perhaps over time this is an area where we could make progress, but I would say it’s premature to use this as an area for de-escalation, at least at this time.”

The statement comes at an interesting time as China’s Finance Ministry, in a statement after Yellen visited Beijing, called on Washington to take concrete measures to improve ties, including cancelling the additional tariffs and refraining from “suppression” measures against Chinese companies.

China’s growth discussed in Beijing: Yellen

To a question about a slowdown in China’s economic rebound, the US finance minister noted that it was a topic that was discussed during her Beijing visit.

“China is a very substantial importer from many countries around the world, so when Chinese growth slows, it has an impact on many countries — and we are seeing that,” she was quoted by Bloomberg.

The publication reported Yellen as saying that she discussed with China their plan to address weakness in their economy.

“I think they certainly are anxious, at a minimum, to communicate that the business environment in China is open and friendly,” she said.

Yellen reiterated her view that Washington’s actions to impose export controls and investment restrictions on China were driven by national security concerns, and were not an attempt to sever ties with Beijing.

“There are many areas in which we have trade and investment that are completely uncontroversial and beneficial to both sides,” she said.

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