Biden set to impose tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, sources say

WASHINGTON AND SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. President Joe Biden is set to announce new tariffs on China as soon as next week, targeting strategic sectors, including electric vehicles, according to two people familiar with the matter. 

The full announcement, which could take place as soon as Tuesday, is expected to largely maintain existing levies, according to one of the people. An announcement could also be pushed back, the person said. 

The tariffs were also set to include semiconductors and solar equipment, according to one of the people. 

Details on the precise value or categories of tariffs that would be imposed were sketchy, but the administration was said to have zeroed in on areas of interest within strategic competitive and national security areas, one of the people said. 

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office made its recommendations to the White House weeks ago, but a final announcement was delayed as the package was debated internally, according to one of the sources and an additional person familiar with the matter. 

Biden, a Democrat seeking reelection in November, is looking to contrast his approach with that of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has proposed across-the-board tariffs that White House officials see as too blunt and prone to spark inflation. 

The White House and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative declined to comment. Bloomberg News first reported the story. 

The measures could invite retaliation from China at a time of heightened tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Trump’s broader imposition of tariffs during his presidency prompted China to retaliate with its own levies. 

Biden has said he does not want a trade war with China even as he has said the countries have entered a new paradigm of competition. 

Both 2024 presidential candidates have sharply departed from the free-trade consensus that once reigned in Washington, a period capped by China’s joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. 

In 2022, Biden launched a review of the Trump-era policy under Section 301 of the U.S. trade law. Last month, he called for sharply higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese metal products, but the targeted products were narrow in range, estimated at more than $1 billion of steel and aluminum products, a U.S. official said. 

Biden also announced launching an investigation into Chinese trade practices across the shipbuilding, maritime and logistics sectors, a process that could lead to more tariffs. 

The Biden administration has also been pressuring neighboring Mexico to prohibit China from selling its metal products to the United States indirectly from there. 

China has said the tariff measures are counterproductive and inflict harm on the U.S. and global economy. 

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