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WASHINGTON: The US government confirmed Friday it will continue enforcing the tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by former president Donald Trump, following hundreds of requests from American companies.

President Joe Biden had been considering how and whether to remove some of the tariffs by his predecessor, amid pressure to offer some relief to soaring US inflation.

But his team was divided, with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai pushing to keep the punitive duties in place.

The tariffs could have been terminated on their four-year anniversary dates — July 6 and August 23, respectively, for the two rounds — if there were no objections from domestic firms, but they remained in force while USTR awaited comment as part of the scheduled review.

USTR said Friday it “received numerous requests” tallying more than 350 firms asking that tariffs remain in place.

“Because requests for continuation were received, the tariff actions have not terminated and USTR will conduct a review of the tariff actions,“ the trade agency said in a statement.

That next step will include time for further comment from stakeholders and consideration of “the effectiveness of the actions in achieving the objectives,“ USTR said, without providing details on the timing or the criteria.

The statement noted that the Biden administration could make changes and the final decision will weigh “the effects of such actions on the United States economy, including consumers.”

Trump imposed tariffs on about $350 billion in annual imports from China in retaliation for Beijing’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of technology.

Tai has said she was reluctant to give up the leverage the tariffs provide, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has argued that some of the duties “serve no strategic purpose” and reconfiguring them could ease inflation, which has reached a 40-year high and is squeezing American families.-AFP

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