US-China Trade Tensions Rise as Biden Imposes Heavy Tariffs on Chinese Goods

US President Joe Biden has announced substantial tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, batteries, steel, solar cells, and aluminum to protect American workers from what he described as unfair trade practices. The tariffs include a 100 percent levy on electric vehicles, a 50 percent tariff on semiconductors, and a 25 percent tariff on electric vehicle batteries from China.

In a national address from the Rose Garden, Biden stated that while Americans can continue to buy any type of car they want, the U.S. will not allow China to dominate the market unfairly. “I want fair competition with China, not conflict. We are in a stronger position to win that economic competition of the 21st century against China than anyone else because we’re investing in America again,” Biden said.

Biden accused the Chinese government of heavily subsidizing its companies across various industries—such as steel, aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, solar panels, and even critical health equipment—resulting in overproduction and dumping of these products at unfairly low prices globally. This practice has driven other manufacturers out of business, he asserted.

“These prices are unfairly low because Chinese companies don’t need to worry about profit since the Chinese government subsidizes them heavily. They also use other anti-competitive tactics, like forcing American companies to transfer their technology to do business in China,” Biden added.

The newly announced tariffs are intended to ensure that U.S. workers are not disadvantaged by such trade practices. Biden emphasized the significant investments American companies are making in electric vehicles and their batteries, noting that international partners are also seeking supply chains free from Chinese unfair practices.

Biden also criticized former President Donald Trump’s trade policies with China. “My predecessor promised to increase American exports and boost manufacturing. But he did neither. He signed a trade deal with China, which required them to buy USD 200 billion more in American goods. Instead, China’s imports from America barely changed,” Biden alleged. He further criticized Trump’s proposal for across-the-board tariffs on all imports, claiming it would increase costs for American families by an average of USD 1,500 annually.

At a White House press conference, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai remarked that the previous administration’s trade deal failed to boost American exports or manufacturing, while China’s exports in critical sectors like EVs and batteries increased. “In response, President Biden directed me to raise tariffs on key manufacturing and mining sectors, including steel, aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, solar cells, and certain critical minerals,” Tai said.

The increased tariffs are expected to cover approximately USD 18 billion in trade. Tai mentioned that there will be a process to request exclusions for certain production machinery from these tariffs to help solar and clean manufacturers diversify their suppliers. She anticipates issuing a public notice next week detailing the specific tariff lines, rates, and timing, along with the machinery exclusion process.

“This decisive action by the president is strategic. As he has stated, we do not aim to constrain China’s economic development but will insist on fair competition and defend American workers from the PRC’s unfair practices. Today’s directive protects American workers and businesses from artificially cheap Chinese products, whether they are EVs, steel, critical minerals, or semiconductors,” Tai said.

She also noted ongoing consultations with U.S. partners and allies facing similar challenges from Chinese trade practices, who are also taking action and voicing their concerns.

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