Wikileaks: Diplomats Bemoaned US Tyre Tariff Decision

While the majority of the 250,000 documents contained in the largest leak of government records in American history focus on diplomatic and political commentaries written by the US ambassadorial network, at least one of the wires published by the Wikileaks website sheds light on behind the scenes discussions on the Obama decision to impose import tariffs on Chinese-made tyres.

A document dated 29 September 2009 and classified as secret, reports that US deputy secretary of state James B Steinberg (Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s chief adviser) discussed the tyre tariffs alongside policy objectives for Iran and North Korea with Chinese foreign minister He Yafei.

While the majority of the transcript focuses on the geo-political concerns of the two countries president Bush had earlier characterised as parts of the “axis of evil”, at least part of it saw He Yafei bemoan president Obama’s decision to impose tariffs on tyre imports.

In the document China is said to have “lamented the United States’ recent 421 tyre decision.” Furthermore diplomats are said to have expressed concern that lawyers in the United States were preparing additional cases on products such as textiles.” There was also said to have been some consternation that “China and the United States relied too much on ‘technical’ negotiators.”

James B. Steinberg is the deputy secretary of state, serving as the principal deputy to secretary Hillary Clinton. Appointed by President Obama, he was confirmed by the Senate on 28 January 2009. Prior to his appointment in the Obama Administration, Steinberg served as dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Before this – from December 1996 to August 2000 – Steinberg served as deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton. During that period he also served as the president’s personal representative (Sherpa) to the 1998 and 1999 G-8 summits.


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