Biden imposes fresh tariffs on Chinese imports, escalating trade tensions | Business and Economic Updates

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President Joe Biden has imposed significant new tariffs on a range of Chinese goods, including electric vehicles, advanced batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum, and medical equipment. In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, he criticized China for its unfair trade practices, particularly government subsidies that give Chinese companies an advantage in global trade. The move is seen as part of a broader strategy to increase tension between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.

China has promised to retaliate against the tariffs, with the Ministry of Commerce stating its opposition to the US actions and vowing to defend its interests. Biden has decided to keep some tariffs put in place by his predecessor, Donald Trump, while increasing others, including quadrupling duties on electric vehicles and doubling duties on semiconductors.

The new tariffs affect $18bn worth of imported Chinese goods, with a particular focus on industries such as steel, aluminum, semiconductors, and electric vehicles. The US imports a significant amount from China, leading to a longstanding trade gap that has become a contentious issue in Washington.

The rationale behind the tariffs is that China is accused of stealing US intellectual property, leading to the imposition of these new measures. Administration officials have emphasized that these tariffs, combined with domestic investments, are unlikely to worsen inflation and are necessary to protect American interests.

The move comes amid a competitive atmosphere between Biden and Trump, both aiming to show toughness on China. Biden has faced criticism for his economic policies, with Trump enjoying an edge in polls on the economy. The tariffs are viewed as part of Biden’s efforts to compete with China without starting a full-blown trade war.

As both candidates depart from the previous free-trade consensus in Washington, analysts warn that the tariffs could increase costs for electric vehicles and impact Biden’s climate goals and job creation efforts. The Biden administration has worked to ease tensions with China, but the tariff announcement indicates a tough stance on trade issues.

The new tariffs will see increases on a range of products, with more to follow in the coming years. Lawmakers have called for significant hikes on Chinese vehicle tariffs over privacy concerns, though currently, the US imports relatively few Chinese-made vehicles. Labor unions, including the United Auto Workers, have expressed support for the tariff moves, seeing them as a way to ensure a fair transition to electric vehicles.

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