Biden Quadruples a China Tax. Not Enough, Says Trump

Election 2024 is now playing out in the form of Chinese tariffs
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 8:43 AM CDT
Biden Quadruples a China Tax. Not Enough, Says Trump
A worker assembles an SUV at a car plant of Li Auto, a major Chinese EV maker, in Changzhou in eastern China's Jiangsu province on March 27, 2024.   (Chinatopix Via AP, File)

President Biden is rolling out new tariffs on China Tuesday on electric vehicles and a slew of other products from semiconductors to solar cells and medical products. The move six months before Election Day could have political implications in critical Rust Belt states as Biden and Donald Trump try to "one-up each other on tariffs," per Politico. Coverage:

  • The big one: The most consequential increase quadruples the tariff on Chinese EVs from 25% to 100%. The AP notes that Chinese EVs currently make up only a small portion of the US market, but that could change in a hurry as China churns out lower-priced models.
  • Others: Tariffs on steel and aluminum products rise from 7.5% to 25%, solar cells from 25% to 50%, and a new tariff on shipping cranes will be 25%. All told, the new tariffs affect $18 billion in Chinese imported goods, reports Reuters. China has vowed to retaliate.

  • Trump factor: Biden is keeping in place tariffs imposed by then-President Trump and increasing others. When news emerged of Biden's plan, Trump doubled down: "I will put a 200% tax on every car that comes in from those plants," he said over the weekend, referring to Chinese vehicles made in Mexico. "Biden finally listened to me." The move illustrates a new trade dynamic, notes the Wall Street Journal in an analysis: "The leaders of both political parties are racing each other to impose tough barriers on trade with China," it reads. "What was once a lone effort by Trump to disrupt the bipartisan faith in free trade has become an establishment consensus of its own."
  • More on the politics: The analysis at Politico looks at how both candidates are going after voters in Midwestern states with an emphasis on protecting the US auto industry. It notes that Trump's threat to add tariffs to cars from Mexico is more aggressive than Biden's plan. It "would amount to a major escalation of trade conflicts with both Beijing and Mexico City that could upend auto supply chains across the continent."
  • Broad vs. narrow: The New York Times also explores the topic, noting that the new tariffs reflect "Biden's efforts to build on Mr. Trump's consensus-defying trade confrontation with China while focusing it on sectors of strategic importance to the United States, like clean energy and semiconductors." Trump has favored broader tariffs to gain leverage with Beijing because American consumers are so vital to China's export economy, according to the analysis.
(More electric vehicles stories.)

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