Biden Proposes Tripling Tariffs on Chinese Steel, Aluminum

Trade Policy Shifts Amid Political Competition

by Zain ul Abedin
Biden Proposes Tripling Tariffs on Chinese Steel, Aluminum
© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has unveiled plans to triple tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from China, signaling a significant shift in trade policy. The move, announced during Biden's address to the United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh, underscores growing concerns about the impact of Chinese competition on the U.S.

steel industry. Under the proposal, Biden has directed his United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, to explore increasing the current 7.5% average tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminum. This strategy, authorized under Section 301 of the Trade Expansion Act, echoes tactics employed by former President Donald Trump, who frequently imposed tariffs on Chinese goods during his tenure.

Lael Brainard, the White House director of the National Economic Council, highlighted the urgent need for action, citing China's dominance in global steel production. She emphasized that China's steel exports, fueled by artificially low prices and lax environmental regulations, pose a direct threat to American manufacturers and workers.

Tariff Hike Targets China

The proposed tariff hike aims to level the playing field by addressing China's unfair trade practices and safeguarding jobs in the U.S. steel industry. Notably, the move also targets Chinese steel and aluminum imports that previously escaped the 25% tariff imposed by the Trump administration under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

Biden's decision to ramp up tariffs reflects broader efforts to bolster American manufacturing while tackling China's industrial overcapacity. Moreover, it comes at a crucial time as both Biden and Trump vie for support from working-class voters, particularly in battleground states like Pennsylvania.

In addition to the tariff escalation, Biden has directed the White House to collaborate with Mexico to counter China's tariff evasion tactics. Furthermore, the United States Trade Representative will investigate China's trade practices in shipbuilding following a petition by the United Steelworkers union, alleging unfair competition.

Despite concerns about potential inflationary pressures, the Biden administration remains committed to rebalancing trade relations with China and protecting domestic industries. The proposed tariff increase underscores Biden's stance against the planned sale of U.S.

Steel to Japanese-based Nippon Steel Corporation, a move that has raised apprehensions about the future of American manufacturing.