John Scannapieco, chair of the Global Business Team at the law firm of Baker Donelson, addresses potential changes in U.S. trade relations and regulations on multiple fronts.
Don’t expect immediate substantial change in the U.S.-China trade relationship, Scannapieco says. The view of China as a threat to U.S. competitiveness has bipartisan support in Washington. Tariffs on Chinese imports are likely to remain in place, at least initially, although the Biden Administration will simultaneously seek cooperation with China on certain issues, such as COVID-19, North Korea and climate change. Biden’s approach will reflect “a realization that both China and the U.S. need each other. “They can’t decouple completely; at the same time they will recognize that we compete with China.”
The U.S. will continue to employ tariffs as a weapon against what it perceives to be unfair trading practices, but Scannapieco expects to see the relaxation of some tariffs on imports from the country’s key allies, such as Mexico, Canada, the U.K. and European Union. As for tariffs on Chinese goods, “I’m hopeful that over time they’ll get reduced, and only used in very specific situations.”
Intellectual property protection will continue to be a concern of the U.S., although Scannapieco says American companies already can take steps to guard their secrets by pursuing copyright and patent protections, which are increasingly being upheld by China, and taking care not to introduce the latest versions of their technology when doing business in that country.
The Biden Administration is also likely to implement policies favoring companies looking to manufacture product in the U.S., Scannapieco says, but won’t adopt Trump’s plan to impose a surtax on any American company that goes offshore, regardless of the purpose. Exceptions will be made when it’s necessary to source items beyond U.S. borders.
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