United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai is sounding the alarm over the “incredible vulnerability” of the U.S. relying on China for raw materials that are vital to American manufacturing.
While touring an eyewear factory outside of Chicago, Illinois, late last week, Tai noted the “fundamental problem” facing many American manufacturers — they want to source materials from the U.S. but can only get them from China.
When an executive complained about 25 percent tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports, Tai said the core issue is not U.S. tariffs on foreign imports but rather that the U.S., too often, relies exclusively on China for a whole host of raw materials.
“But the fundamental problem is that we don’t make it,” Tai said, according to Politico. “And there’s only one place in the world where we can get it. There’s not even a diversified set of suppliers. It’s just one place, which is an incredible vulnerability.”
“I think what you see right now is we’re on a path, working together to try to bring us back to a new model,” Tai told Politico following the tour.
U.S. reliance on China for critical materials and goods stretches across industries. Since the U.S. opened free trade with China in 2001, the communist country has become the world leader in manufacturing, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all output, while the U.S. represents less than 17 percent of all output.
Tai, considered one of the Biden administration’s few economic nationalists, is reviewing U.S. tariffs on China that were first carried out by former USTR Robert Lighthizer in the Trump administration.
Despite overwhelming pressure from multinational corporations to eliminate the China tariffs while they are under review, Tai has kept them in place.
Voters, by a large majority, support tariffs to protect American workers and jobs.
A Morning Consult poll from last year found that more than 7-in-10 American voters support preserving Trump’s billions worth of tariffs on China-made goods. About 61 percent of voters said U.S. free trade with China has caused the nation to become overreliant on the communist country for critical products and goods.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter here.