The Senate passed on Thursday legislation that would cut tariffs on hundreds of items made in China, thus lowering trade barriers with Beijing.
The bill, which would cut or eliminate tariffs on roughly 1,660 items made outside the United States, was passed unanimously without debate. Almost half of all those products are manufactured in China, the world’s second-largest economy.
The legislation was passed as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing are escalating following a series of tariffs on Chinese imports imposed by President Donald Trump and retaliatory measures from Beijing. The bill, also known as miscellaneous tariff bill, has now passed both chambers of the Congress which are to resolve minor differences before they can send the legislation to President Trump to sign into law. The White House has not yet taken a position on the legislation.
Its supporters maintain the bill would help boost the economy by eliminating tariffs intended to protect industries that no longer exist in the U.S. American businesses currently pay up to $1 million a day on such import tariffs.
“It makes no sense because it is a direct and punishing tax on making things in America and for creating jobs in America,” the National Association of Manufacturers’ President Jay Timmons said in a prepared statement celebrating the bill’s passage.
Among the beneficiaries are companies that have moved production offshore and will now pay reduced tariffs on Chinese-made items they used to manufacture domestically.
On the other hand, some manufacturers have complained the legislation would harm their businesses by facilitating the import of cheap foreign goods.