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Biden’s Trade War: U.S. to Triple Tariffs on Chinese Steel

Daniel Kim Views  

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Photo=AFP/Yonhap

After Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has also declared a substantial tariff hike on Chinese steel products and related items. As declarations and competition for protectionist measures aimed at China heighten, trade tensions between the U.S. and China are predicted to intensify.

As reported by Yonhap News, President Biden visited the United Steelworkers (USW) headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the 17th (local time) and officially unveiled proposals for a noteworthy tariff increase on Chinese steel and aluminum, asserting, “Chinese steel companies are not engaging in competition, but rather cheating.”

President Biden had earlier directed the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to explore the possibility of tripling Chinese steel and aluminum tariffs under Trade Act Section 301.

Currently, the USTR is conducting a routine review to determine whether to continue elevated tariffs against China, implemented under Trade Act Section 301 during the Trump administration, in response to unfair competition.

During a briefing, a senior White House official stated, “The first step involves concluding the routine review, which we anticipate will be announced shortly. Depending on the review’s findings, supplementary responsive actions and improvements in tariff effectiveness, consistent with the president’s directive, may be considered.”

Should President Biden’s instruction be executed, the existing 7.5% tariff on Chinese steel and aluminum would surge 25%.

Additionally, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report from last January, the USTR is reportedly contemplating tariff increases on other Chinese imports, such as electric vehicles, batteries, and solar power.

Under the Trade Act Section 301, the U.S. President can enact essential measures against unfair trade practices detrimental to U.S. trade and investment. This legislation mandates a periodic review of its impact every four years.

In 2022, the Biden administration commenced a routine assessment and initially disapproved of the Trump administration’s imposition of high tariffs on China.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre remarked in June 2022, “Since the beginning of the administration, we have maintained that certain tariffs imposed by Trump are irresponsible and fail to bolster the economy or enhance national security.”

Amidst soaring inflation reaching a 40-year peak and escalating concerns over pricing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and others advocated for adjustments to the high tariffs on China. This stance diverged from that of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who opposed tariff reductions.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), disagreements within the Biden administration regarding tariff issues have been resolved, prompted by a surge in Chinese exports.

Following her visit to China, Secretary Yellen appeared on CNN on the 14th and voiced apprehension regarding the potential influx of Chinese exports into our market, particularly in sectors experiencing overproduction in China.

When questioned about additional tariffs, she remarked, “We are not ruling out any response options.”

During a briefing, Lael Brainard, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, emphasized, “China’s policy-driven overproduction poses a significant threat to the U.S. steel and aluminum industries. In manufacturing sectors such as steel, China is already surpassing levels that either China or the world can readily accommodate.”

Former President Trump actively appeals to voters by pledging an adamant stance on trade with China.

Former President Trump, known for advocating a purported 10% across-the-board tariff, has floated the idea of imposing tariffs exceeding 60% uniformly on China.

In a February Fox News interview, he hinted at the possibility of implementing tariffs exceeding 60% on China if he returns to power, stating, “It could be more than that,” in response to media reports.

Last month, he asserted, “China now acts as a dominant force over the U.S. They fear me greatly because of the additional tariffs, so tariffs have a wholly positive impact on my negotiations.”

The Biden administration’s proposed measures are met with opposition from China.

The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. denounced these actions in a statement, declaring, “The U.S.’s actions under Trade Act Section 301 represent unilateralism and protectionism. These measures have been deemed to breach World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations,” as reported by Sputnik News.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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