Nearly two years after the Trump administration concluded the first phase of a trade agreement with Beijing, the pact increasingly looks like an enduring framework for relations between China and the United States.
Trade, and the truce known as the Phase 1 agreement, was expected to be a focus of the virtual summit between President Biden and Xi Jinping, China’s top leader.
While Mr. Biden questioned the Trump administration’s aggressive trade approach during his presidential campaign, his White House has continued trying to counter China’s industrial subsidies and trade measures with tariffs and other investment restrictions. The Biden administration remains wary of any broad lifting of tariffs unless China curbs its wide array of government subsidies to advanced manufacturing industries.
Mr. Xi hinted this month in a video speech to an import expo in Shanghai that his government would be willing to discuss some subsidies. But Beijing is broadly committed to greater economic self-reliance, a policy founded on subsidies to industries like semiconductors and commercial jets, for which China relies heavily on imports.
China is also reportedly close to allowing Boeing 737 Max jets to return to its skies after crashes about three years ago in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the plane late last year, and it has since been widely used elsewhere without incident.
Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, announced last month that the Biden administration would restart a Trump-era procedure for excluding a few specific products from tariffs. The exemptions are for products that American companies can prove that they genuinely need and cannot readily purchase elsewhere.
China was allowed to retain some tariffs on U.S. goods under the Phase 1 agreement, but has already issued exemptions for most of its tariffs.
Mr. Biden’s economic deputies are traveling elsewhere in Asia this week, strengthening ties to counterbalance the Chinese relationship. Ms. Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo are touring the region, meeting with economic officials in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and India.