WASHINGTON—The U.S. isn’t ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports in the near future, but might be open to trade negotiations with Beijing, according to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
In her first interview since Senate confirmation, Ms. Tai said she recognized that the tariffs can exact a toll on U.S. businesses and consumers, though proponents have said they also help shield companies from subsidized foreign competition.
“I have heard people say, ‘Please just take these tariffs off,’” Ms. Tai said. But “yanking off tariffs,” she warned, could harm the economy unless the change is “communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments.”
“Whether they are companies, traders, manufacturers or their workers,” she added, “the ability to plan” for changes that affect their future is essential.
The negotiator also cited tactical reasons for her reluctance.
“No negotiator walks away from leverage, right?” she said.