Biden Calls for Higher Tariffs on Steel Imported from China

By: | June 4th, 2024

U.S. President Joe Biden has called for higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese metal products as a part of policies aiming to please steelworkers in the state of Pennsylvania. According to Biden’s aides, the president is suggesting a raise to 25% the tariffs previously imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump on certain Chinese steel and aluminum products.

The targeted products are currently facing up to 7.5% Section 301 of the U.S. trade law reviewed by Biden in 2022, which is also a Trump-era policy. Meanwhile, a higher tariff rate is also suggested for steel and aluminum products which are worth more than more than $1 billion.

In addition, the Biden administration is also preventing China from indirectly selling its metal products from the neighbor Mexico to the U.S. At the same time, they are also investigating Chinese trade practices across the shipbuilding, maritime, and logistics sectors, which could lead to more tariffs.

These measures also invite blowback from China amid the world’s two biggest economies having already heightened tensions. In the past, Trump imposed broader tariffs during his 2017-2021 presidency which also led China to retaliate with its own levies.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by the American Iron and Steel Institute, China was the seventh-largest exporter of steel to the U.S. in 2023, with shipments of 598,000 net tons, a fall of 8.2% from 2022. Meanwhile, Canada was the top exporter to the U.S., with 6.9 million tons, followed by Mexico, with 4.2 million tons. On the other hand, AISI data also reported domestic steelmakers shipped 89.3 million net tons of steel in 2023.

China’s economy grew by a faster-than-expected 5.3% in the first quarter as the country has turned to exports to shore up growth amid protracted weakness in the property sector and increasing local government debt.

Chinese customs data showed the country exported 25.8 million tons of steel products in the first quarter of 2023, the highest for the period since 2016 and a rise of 30.7% year on year.

The new tariffs would come on top of 25% Section 232 national security tariffs, which were also imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum products, and product-specific anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties for the triple-digit percentages.

Ashton Henning

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