Yellen says Biden's China tariffs are strategic, Trump's would raise costs

FILE PHOTO: Yellen holds a news conference in Washington

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday defended President Joe Biden's increased tariffs on certain Chinese goods as highly strategic but said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's tariff proposals would be much broader and raise costs for consumers.

Yellen told a news briefing in Atlanta that Biden's new tariffs are aimed at protecting electric vehicles, solar energy products and semiconductors from excess Chinese capacity created by Beijing's over-investment. The administration refuses to allow U.S. firms in these sectors "to be put out of business" by coordinated Chinese dumping of exports, she said.

Other countries are taking similar actions, Yellen said, noting this month's G7 leaders statement opposing China's industrial and business policies.

But Biden's tariff announcement last month left in place punitive duties of up to 25% on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of other Chinese imports, from toys to internet routers, which were imposed by Trump in 2018 and 2019 under a "Section 301" investigation into China's misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property.

"Given that China has not done anything, really, to address those concerns, we thought it was inappropriate to remove those tariffs," Yellen said.

Asked about Trump's proposals to impose a 10% tariff on all goods imports into the U.S., and 60% or more on Chinese goods, Yellen said they "would affect all of our trade partners and all of our trade."

"And I believe that is a substantial enough program that it would both raise costs to consumers broadly on all the imports they buy, and harm American businesses, many of whom rely on imported goods for their supply chains," she said. "It would significantly raise their costs."

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Matthew Lewis)