What Janet Yellen’s nomination as Treasury secretary means for U.S. policy on China and trade – CNBC

Janet Yellen, former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

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Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden as his Treasury secretary — a position that would make her, if confirmed by the Senate, a critical figure in U.S. trade negotiations with China.

U.S.-China tensions have escalated since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Actions Trump has taken against China include slapping elevated tariffs on Chinese goods and restricting access to the American market for some Chinese companies. He argued these measures would address what he said were risks to U.S. national security and unfair trade practices by Beijing.

Yellen has in the past acknowledged concerns about Chinese industrial practices. Her policy stance on China is less known, but she has supported open trade and the international trading system — an indication that she, like many on Biden’s team, would be a moderate voice.

“If you look at her history, she has been more moderate on China issues than most folks in the Trump administration,” Clete Willems, a former top White House trade negotiator, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” last week.      

“I think the Biden administration wants to prioritize dialogue and communication, try to ease some of the tensions. I think that’s something to watch very closely here to see what kind of role she’s going to play,” said Willems, who left the White House in April last