Biden Vows to Block Acquisition of US Steel

He also aims to triple tariffs on Chinese steel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 17, 2024 5:24 PM CDT
Biden Vows to Block Acquisition of US Steel
President Biden greets steelworkers at United Steelworkers Headquarters, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Biden promised cheering unionized steelworkers on Wednesday that his administration would block the acquisition of US Steel by a Japanese company. He also called for a tripling of tariffs on Chinese steel, seeking to use trade policy to win over working-class votes in Pennsylvania, an election-year battleground. Biden said during a visit to the headquarters of the United Steelworkers union that US Steel "has been an iconic American company for more than a century and it should remain totally American," the AP reports. "American-owned, American operated by American union steelworkers—the best in the world—and that's going to happen I promise you," the president said.

His administration is reviewing the proposed acquisition by Japan's Nippon Steel. Biden said last month he would oppose the deal, saying it was "vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated." But in front of a pro-union audience, he went much further. "The backbone of America has a steel spine," Biden said. In another move that his administration argues can protect domestic steelworkers, Biden is pushing for the higher tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, aiming to insulate American producers from a flood of cheap imports.

While the announcements reflected the intersection of Biden's international trade policy with his reelection effort, the White House insisted they were more about shielding American manufacturing from unfair trade practices overseas than firing up a union audience. The current tariff rate is 7.5% for both steel and aluminum but could climb to 22.5%. The tariff move, however, is largely symbolic. The US imported roughly $6.1 billion in steel products in the 12 months ending in February 2023, but just 3% of those imports came from China, according to Census Bureau figures.

(More steel stories.)

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