Biden announces new tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, EVs, solar panels

Chicago Construction News staff writer

President Joe Biden has announced tariff hikes on a range of Chinese imports including steel and aluminum, calling the move “a necessary action” to protect US workers and businesses from companies he accused of stealing, cheating and dumping underpriced goods into international markets.

Biden said he was authorising 25 per cent tariffs on Chinese-made steel and aluminium meant to directly counter “Chinese overcapacity”, in tandem with $1.5 billion in to support construction of new, environmentally-friendly steel and aluminium facilities here in the US.

The tariff rate on certain steel and aluminum products under Section 301 will increase from 0–7.5% to 25% in 2024.

Recently, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $6 billion for 33 clean manufacturing projects including for steel and aluminum, including the first new primary aluminum smelter in four decades, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Funding will make the United States one of the first nations in the world to convert clean hydrogen into clean steel, bolstering the U.S. steel industry’s competitiveness as the world’s cleanest major steel producer.

“American workers can out-work and out-compete anyone as long as the competition is fair, but for too long it hasn’t been fair,” Biden said during a speech in the White House Rose Garden before unions and companies. “We’re not going to let China flood our market.”

Chinese state-owned competitors, Biden said, have “long benefited” from the Chinese government’s unfair trade practices.

“For years the Chinese government has poured state money to Chinese companies across a whole range of industries — steel, aluminium, semiconductors, electric vehicles, solar panels … and even critical health equipment like gloves and masks,” he said.

The Chinese government’s heavy subsidies for those state-owned enterprises let them “produce far more than the rest of the world can absorb,” he added, with the end result of “dumping the excess products onto the market at unfairly low prices” and “driving other manufacturers around the world out of business”.

Biden also announced a 25 per cent tariff on Chinese-made EV batteries and one of the same percentage on China-sourced “critical minerals” used to make those batteries.

“I’m determined that the future of electric vehicles will be made in America by union workers, period,” he said. “And we’ll do it by following international trade laws.”

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