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Biden-Harris administration announces increased tariffs on Chinese steel

President Biden has unveiled plans to triple tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum in a bid to protect American producers from an influx of low-cost imports. 

The announcement comes as part of his three-day campaign in Pennsylvania, where he aims to garner support from steelworkers ahead of the upcoming presidential race.

The current tariff rate of 7.5% for both steel and aluminum could skyrocket to 22.5% under Biden’s proposal. This move underscores the intersection of Biden’s international trade policy with his reelection strategy. Despite the emphasis on protecting American manufacturing, the White House asserts that the policy primarily aims to address unfair trade practices rather than cater solely to union interests.

The administration also pledged to initiate antidumping investigations against countries and importers flooding markets with Chinese steel. Collaborative efforts with Mexico aim to prevent circumvention of tariffs by shipping steel through intermediary countries.

U.S. steelmakers have welcomed the announcement, with Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, accusing China of disrupting global markets through subsidies and dumping practices.

However, the impact of the proposed tariffs might be largely symbolic. Census Bureau figures reveal that China accounted for just 3% of steel imports in the previous 12 months, with existing trade barriers limiting its share to 2.1% of U.S. steel imports last year.

The move towards protectionism mirrors strategies employed by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who imposed broad tariffs on Chinese goods during his tenure. However, concerns loom over potential economic repercussions, including increased costs for consumers and industries reliant on steel and aluminum.

Biden’s call for higher tariffs awaits the completion of a review of Chinese trade practices, followed by a public notice and comment period. 

Meanwhile, discussions on steel trade dynamics continue, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warning against oversaturation of markets with low-cost goods during recent talks in China.

As Biden intensifies efforts to bolster domestic industries, attention also turns to Japanese Nippon Steel’s proposed acquisition of U.S. Steel. Biden has voiced opposition to the deal, emphasizing the importance of maintaining American ownership and operation of key industries.

The escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China could significantly impact global trade dynamics, with implications stretching across various sectors. 

As the Biden administration takes decisive steps, the broader economic landscape remains uncertain amidst a backdrop of geopolitical complexities and trade disputes.

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