President Biden Proposes Significant Tariff Increase on Chinese Steel and Aluminum

During a significant speech at the U.S. Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared his intention to ask the U.S. Trade Representative to consider a substantial increase in tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. This move aims to bolster protections for the U.S. steel and aluminum industry.

In his address, President Biden, acknowledging the critical role of Pennsylvania—a key swing state in the upcoming November elections—expressed his gratitude to union workers, stating, “You’ve had my back and I promise I have your back.”

“The backbone of America has a steel spine,” Biden remarked. “You’ve heard me say it before — Wall Street didn’t build America; the middle class did, and unions built the middle class. That’s why I’m committing to a series of actions that underscore my support for you, the American steelworker.”

The president discussed his plans to request Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative, to potentially triple the current 7.5% tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum if an ongoing investigation concludes that China is engaging in anti-competitive trade practices in these industries. The administration cites “unfair competition” from low-priced Chinese imports that not only undercut high-quality U.S. products but also employ higher emissions, as noted in a White House fact sheet.

Additionally, President Biden highlighted issues with Chinese steel and aluminum being rerouted through Mexico to circumvent U.S. tariffs. He mentioned that Tai will be collaborating with Mexico to address these circumventions and is also initiating a broader investigation into China’s activities in the maritime, shipbuilding, and logistics sectors.

During his speech, President Biden took the opportunity to critique his predecessor, Donald Trump, humorously noting that Trump is “busy,” a reference that drew laughter from the audience. He contrasted his targeted tariff strategy with what he described as Trump’s broader, less discerning tariff approach which he argued could harm American consumers.

“These strategic and targeted actions are designed to protect American workers and ensure fair competition,” Biden emphasized. “Meanwhile, my predecessor and the MAGA Republicans advocate for across-the-board tariffs on all imports from all countries, which could severely impact American consumers.”

The final decisions on these proposed tariff adjustments are anticipated following the conclusion of the USTR’s investigation into the alleged anti-competitive practices.

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