Biden Announces Tariff Increases on Chinese EVs, Batteries, Solar Cells – BusinessKorea

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This stylized photo is meant to depict the trade war between the U.S. and China.

On May 14 at 12:00 p.m. EST, the U.S. government announced new tariffs targeting Chinese products, including a 100% tariff on electric vehicles (EVs). According to international media, Lael Brainard, the White House chief economic advisor, stated that the tariffs on Chinese EVs, batteries, semiconductors, solar panels, medical equipment, steel, and aluminum are being adjusted to protect the jobs generated by President Biden’s policies from being undermined by cheap imports from China.

The White House anticipates that the tariff adjustments will affect approximately US$18 billion in annual imports. This measure is seen both as a way to curb the influx of low-cost Chinese EVs, priced at US$10,000 each, and as part of the pre-election rhetoric, intensifying the trade war with China in the run-up to the November presidential elections—a strategy previously emphasized by former President Trump.

Details on the tariffs shared by the White House are as follows:

* Tariffs on Chinese EVs will quadruple from the current 25% to 100%. An additional tariff of 2.5% is already applied to all cars imported into the U.S.

* Tariffs on lithium-ion EV batteries will increase from 7.5% this year to 25%, with non-EV lithium-ion battery tariffs to increase starting in 2026. Battery component tariffs will also rise from 7.5% to 25% this year, and tariffs on natural graphite and permanent magnets will increase from 0% to 25% in 2026.

*The tariff rate on solar cells will increase from 25% to 50%, regardless of module assembly status.

* Tariffs on Chinese semiconductors will increase from 25% to 50% starting in 2025.

* In the medical equipment sector, tariffs on syringes and needles will increase from 0% to 50% this year. Tariffs on specific personal protective equipment (PPE), including some respirators and face masks, will increase from 0-7.5% to 25% this year, and tariffs on rubber medical and surgical gloves will rise from 7.5% to 25% by 2026.

* Tariffs on maritime cranes will rise from 0% to 25% this year, amid security concerns raised by U.S. lawmakers regarding the technology in Chinese cargo cranes.

* Specific steel and aluminum product tariffs will increase from 0% or 7.5% to 25% this year. Last month, President Biden mentioned the possibility of tripling the tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum.

A senior official from the Biden administration claims the new tariffs are not politically motivated and result from a long-term review under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. They also argue that the new tariffs will not induce inflation or lead to increased costs for Americans. The Biden administration has criticized the Trump administration’s 2019 trade deal with China for failing to boost U.S. exports.

Meanwhile, Trump stated that he would impose a 200% tariff on Chinese EVs after hearing rumors about Biden’s consideration of a 100% tariff the day before.

The U.S. government’s high tariff measures have sparked concern in the government and related industries about future implications. Although the domestic automotive and semiconductor industries might benefit in the short term, the complex global supply chain structure could lead to long-term damage. Additionally, the possibility of China’s retaliatory response is being closely monitored for its potential impact on domestic affairs.

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