US to Increase Tariffs on $18 Billion of Chinese Imports

04:49 May 14, 2024

US to Increase Tariffs on $18 Billion of Chinese Imports

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans Tuesday to increase tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Among the goods facing new taxes will be electric vehicles (EVs), computer chips, batteries, critical minerals, medical products, steel and aluminum.

The White House released a statement about the plan on Tuesday. The statement explained that the move aims to limit what it called “unfair trade practices” by China. It said U.S. officials were especially concerned that Chinese trade policies on technology transfers, intellectual property, and innovation “are threatening American businesses and workers.”

The U.S. plans come after a four-year examination on trade with China. The examination looked at tariffs put in place by former President Donald Trump, who introduced taxes on about $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The examination was carried out under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The act permits the government to take action against trade practices it considers unfair. Section 301 was also the main tool the Trump administration used to defend its tariffs.

China was quick to condemn the proposed new tariffs and urged the U.S. to cancel the plans. A commerce ministry statement said the action “will seriously affect the atmosphere of bilateral cooperation.” The statement also said the Chinese government is prepared to take its own measures to defend its interests.

The U.S. tariffs are to be activated over the next three years. Tariffs on EVs, solar cells, medical devices, steel and aluminum are set to take effect in 2024.

Currently, there are very few EVs from China in the United States. But officials worry that low-priced models made possible by Chinese government subsidies could soon start flooding the U.S. market.

The tariff rate on EVs is set to increase four times to 100 percent this year. The tariff rate for semiconductors will rise from 25 percent to 50 percent by next year, White House officials said.

Lael Brainard is director of Biden’s National Economic Council. She said the tariffs would increase the cost of some Chinese goods. They would also help block China’s efforts to dominate the market for new, developing technologies.

“China is simply too big to play by its own rules,” Brainard told reporters Monday during a conference call ahead of the announcement.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the U.S. imported $427 billion in goods from China in 2023, while it exported $148 billion in goods.

U.S. officials have said the latest tariff decision was made independently of this year’s American presidential election, which happens in November.

But Brainard noted in her comments that the tariffs would help workers in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Both states are so-called “battleground states” that may decide who wins the election.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

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