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Biden Advances Tariff Hikes on Multiple Chinese Goods

Photo : Reuters and AFP

President Joe Biden's administration is set to escalate trade tensions with China by announcing a significant increase in tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese exports. This move, targeting various sectors including electric vehicles (EVs), batteries, semiconductors, steel, and aluminum, underscores the ongoing battle between the two global economic powerhouses.

In response to what the White House deems as unfair trade practices by China, President Biden will unveil the tariff hikes on Tuesday, intensifying what economists view as a contentious trade war. The escalation comes amid heightened competition for dominance between the world's two largest economies.

Key among the tariff increases is the quadrupling of tariffs on electric vehicles, soaring from 25% to 100% this year. Notably, China's leading EV manufacturer, BYD, offers vehicles priced as low as $10,000, a move likely to face substantial impacts.

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Lael Brainard, the White House national economic adviser, highlighted China's alleged exploitation of global markets through excess capacity and unfair trade practices, asserting that China's economic prowess necessitates adherence to international trade norms.

However, China has vehemently denied these allegations, labeling them as "groundless" and accusing the U.S. of attempting to stifle global competition. The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated China's opposition to unilateral tariff increases that contravene World Trade Organization regulations, signaling potential retaliatory measures.

The Biden administration's tariff hike encompasses various sectors, including steel, aluminum, battery parts, lithium-ion batteries (both EV and non-EV), solar cells, syringes, needles, personal protective equipment, semiconductors, natural graphite, permanent magnets, and rubber medical gloves. These increases are slated to take effect this year or in the coming years, escalating trade tensions between the two nations.

Despite concerns over potential consumer price hikes and inflation, senior administration officials assert that the tariff hikes are strategically targeted to foster domestic investment in critical sectors. They argue against the notion of an inflationary impact, emphasizing the administration's focus on bolstering strategic industries and fostering international cooperation to confront China's trade practices.

However, critics, including the Trump campaign, have criticized Biden's approach, citing concerns over its efficacy in protecting American manufacturers and competitiveness.

The Biden administration faces the delicate task of balancing its goals of promoting clean energy and safeguarding American manufacturing amid escalating trade tensions with China. As the administration moves forward with its tariff strategy, the implications for both the U.S. and global economies remain uncertain, with broader ramifications for international trade relations.

May 14, 2024 4:41 p.m. 4617

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