Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen left the door open to keeping U.S. tariffs on China in place for now at her Senate confirmation hearing this week, but said America should "work with our allies rather than unilaterally" to "address unfair trade practices."
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., criticized the economic impacts of former President Trump's trade war with China and asked Yellen if she repudiates "unilateral protectionism."
"I believe we should try to address unfair trade practices and the best way to do that is to work with our allies rather than unilaterally," Yellen responded.
The former chair of the Federal Reserve also told the Senate that the "unfair practices have to do with things like stealing intellectual property and engaging in forced technology transfer or subsidies that provide an unfair technological advantage."
"I think we should focus directly on those practices and work with our allies to make sure that they're they are addressed."
Sen. Cantwell criticized the tariffs, citing a U.S.-China Business Council study by Oxford University economists that found Trump's trade war caused a peak loss of 245,000 American jobs. She also pointed to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Columbia University that found the trade war cut the market capitalization of U.S. companies by $1.7 trillion and decreased investment growth by 1.9% last year.
Yellen took a hawkish stance on China Tuesday, naming the country "our most important strategic competitor" and accusing them of "horrendous human rights abuses."
"China's undercutting American companies by dumping products, erecting trade barriers, and giving illegal subsidies to corporations," she told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "It's been stealing intellectual property and engaging in practices that give it an unfair technological advantage."
President Biden told The New York Times last month that he wouldn't immediately lift Trump's tariffs on roughly $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and would leave the Phase 1 agreement Trump inked with China in place for now.
“I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs,” Biden told the newspaper. “I’m not going to prejudice my options.”