She says Biden is looking to engage, not escalate, with China in ways that are ‘good for America’, and she is likely to send a team over in spring
Raimondo says plans to scrutinise US capital flows to China are a priority, but warns against ‘overly broad’ measures that will hurt Americans workers
March 3, 2023
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks during an interview in Washington on Thursday. Photo: Bloomberg
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is considering a trip to China this year, a visit by one of the top US officials driving Washington’s efforts to limit Beijing’s technology ambitions amid multiple tensions between the two world’s biggest economies.
President Joe Biden is “looking to engage with China in all ways that are good for America, commercially, diplomatically – that communication is intended to de-escalate. That’s where we want to be in our relationship with China – not escalating”, Raimondo said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Washington Thursday.
“I’m certainly going to be sending my team over – probably even this spring. We’re trying to work that out. And yes, I think probably I would” go, she said.
In 2022, trade in goods between the US and China climbed to a record, a reminder that consumers and companies in the world’s two biggest economies remain deeply connected while their governments diverge on a range of economic and political issues.
The deepening trade ties between the countries risk being challenged by the widening split between Washington and Beijing, which have clashed on issue including human rights, trade and competition for technology and markets.
Washington is working to lessen US reliance on China for merchandise, encouraging Western companies to invest in trusted trading partners such as India in a process known as friendshoring. It is also prioritising plans to scrutinise US capital flows to China, but must move cautiously because it wants to ensure the strategy is targeted, Raimondo said. The Biden administration and Congress are both considering proposals that would create a system for monitoring and potentially blocking US investments in China, a process Raimondo described as “complicated” because there are many US pension firms that have invested people’s retirement money in the nation.
“You certainly don’t want to do any type of thing that has an unintended consequence, that hurts folks,” she said. “You don’t want to be overly broad. We want commerce, we want trade, we want global investment. Anything that’s overly broad hurts American workers and the economy.”
Lawmakers and the administration are trying to strike a balance between investments and national-security concerns they have about information and technology being used by what they see as America’s top economic and political competitor.
“It’s an issue, it’s a priority,” Raimondo said.
“But it’s better to take a tick more time and get it right than to issue a policy which is overly broad and isn’t right. We’ve never done this before – it’s one thing to deny goods. It’s another thing to deny money flows. And so we’re just trying to be cautious to get it right.”