Biden hits Chinese electric cars and solar cells with higher tariffs – BBC

4 minutes, 51 seconds Read
  • Published
    48 minutes ago
Image source, Getty Images

US President Joe Biden is ramping up tariffs on Chinese-made electric cars, solar panels, steel and other goods.

The White House said the measures, which include a 100% border tax on electric cars from China, were a response to unfair policies and intended to protect US jobs.

China has already criticised the plans, which were signalled in advance.

Analysts said the tariffs were largely symbolic and intended to shore up votes in a tough election year.

They follow months of criticism by former President Donald Trump, who is running for the White House against Mr Biden and has argued his rival’s support for electric cars would “kill” the US car industry.

The tariffs announced on Tuesday would hit an estimated $18bn worth of imports, the White House said.

As well as a rise from 25% to 100% on electric vehicle tariffs, levies on solar cells would go up from 25% to 50%.

Tariff rates on certain steel and aluminium products will more than triple to 25%, up from 7.5% or less.

The moves expand sweeping tariffs that the US imposed on Chinese goods under Mr Trump, citing unfair trade practices.

During the Biden administration’s review of the measures, the government received nearly 1,500 comments, the vast majority of them, external from business owners arguing that they were driving up prices for everyday Americans, and asking them to be removed.

Mr Biden’s decision to leave the tariffs in place and expand them into new areas – even as persistent US inflation has weighed on his approval ratings – is a testament to the dramatic shift in trade views for both political parties in the US, which had long championed the benefits of global commerce.

Wendy Cutler, a former trade official for the US who is now vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said she believed Americans were willing to accept higher priced cars, in exchange for helping to protect US companies and jobs.

“We’ve seen this movie before – with solar, with steel and [aluminium], and when it comes to cars and other products the United States needs to get ahead of the curve,” she said.

“It’s all about trade-offs and maybe in the immediate term cars become more expensive but in the longer term we want to have a competitive industry here.”

US President Joe Biden

Image source, Getty Images

In a briefing with reporters, White House officials denied that domestic politics had influenced the decision.

They said the US measures were sparked by business practices by Beijing that harm the US, for example forcing western companies to share information and then stealing it.

They also said the moves were targeted and said they did not expect them to stoke inflation, contrasting their approach with that of Mr Trump.

The former president, who once called himself a “tariff man”, has campaigned on a proposed across-the-board 10% tariff on foreign imports, which would jump to 60% for goods from China.

He has also attacked Mr Biden for promoting electric vehicles, a move he has argued will destroy US car companies, key employers in states such as Michigan that will be key election battlegrounds in November.

The US already imposes steep tariffs on electric vehicles made in China, which has made sales of such cars negligible.

But Washington has been watching warily as sales by Chinese companies in Europe and other countries increase.

White House officials said ensuring that green technologies were not dominated by a single country was critical to making the transition successful and sustainable in the long run.

While moves targeting electric vehicles are likely to have minimal practical effect, the business world is waiting to see if Europe will take similar steps, said Natasha Ebtehadj of Artemis Investment Management.


New tariffs – at a glance

  • semiconductors – from 25% to 50% by 2025

  • certain steel and aluminium products – from 7.5% to 25% in 2024

  • electric vehicles – from 25% to 100% in 2024

  • lithium batteries and critical minerals – from 7.5% to 25% in 2024

  • solar cells – from 25% to 50% in 2024

  • ship to shore cranes – from 0% to 25% in 2024

  • rubber medical and surgical gloves – from 7.5% to 25% in 2026


The European Union and the UK are among the other places debating moves to curb imports of Chinese-made electric cars, even at the risk of slowing their adoption.

“It’s not really a surprise to investors or to Chinese companies, especially in the run-up to an election where both candidates are not really pro-China,” she said.

“Given the relatively small volume of imports to the US, it’s maybe more interesting what happens next in Europe.”

The US and China have been locked in a trade war since 2018, when Mr Trump imposed tariffs on some two thirds of goods imported from China, at the time worth an estimated $360bn.

The measures prompted retaliation by Beijing, a stand-off that ended in a détente in early 2020 when Mr Trump reduced the rate of some tariffs, while China pledged to boost its purchases from the US.

Those promises have fallen short, but the tariffs have since yielded more than $200bn according to the US, external in new border taxes for the US government, while prompting a major reshuffling of global trade patterns.

Much of that sum has been paid by everyday Americans in the form of higher prices for furniture, footwear and other goods.

However, in a research note, Oxford Economics described the latest plans as “more symbolic bark than bite”.

The firm said they were likely to lift inflation by a negligible 0.01 percentage points, while weighing on growth in a similar way, calling the effect a “rounding error”.

Reporting contributed by World Business Report radio

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

Similar Posts