News Brief

US-China Trade War Escalates: Biden Administration Slaps Higher Tariffs On Chinese EVs And Solar Cells; EU, UK May Follow Suit

Kuldeep Negi

May 15, 2024, 09:47 AM | Updated 09:47 AM IST

Joe Biden (left) and Xi Jinping (Representative Image).
Joe Biden (left) and Xi Jinping (Representative Image).

The Biden administration in the US has increased tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles, solar panels, steel, and other goods.

The White House stated these measures, which include a 100 per cent border tax on electric cars from China, are in response to unfair policies and aim to protect US jobs.

China has expressed opposition to the tariff increases and plans to take retaliatory actions.

These tariffs follow months of criticism from former President Donald Trump, who is running against Biden and has argued that Biden's support for electric vehicles would harm the US car industry.

Biden stated on Tuesday that he would not allow China to "unfairly control the market" for electric vehicles and other crucial goods, including batteries, computer chips, and basic medical supplies.

"If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that we need a secure supply of essentials here at home," he said.

The US and China have been engaged in a trade war since 2018, when Trump imposed tariffs on about two-thirds of goods imported from China, valued at an estimated $360 billion at the time.

The newly announced tariffs will impact an estimated $18 billion worth of imports.

Along with the increase from 25 per cent to 100 per cent on electric vehicle tariffs, solar cell levies will rise from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. Tariff rates on certain steel and aluminum products will more than triple to 25 per cent, up from 7.5 per cent or less.

In response, China's commerce ministry criticised the new measures, stating they would "severely affect the atmosphere for bilateral cooperation" and condemned the politicisation of economic issues.

A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said it would "take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests."

These moves expand on the sweeping border taxes imposed on Chinese goods under Trump's administration, which cited unfair trade practices.

During the Biden administration's review of the tariffs, the government received nearly 1,500 comments, mostly from business owners who argued that the tariffs were increasing prices for Americans and requested their removal.

Despite persistent US inflation affecting his approval ratings, Biden's decision to maintain and expand these tariffs highlights a significant shift in trade perspectives for both major political parties in the US, which previously supported the benefits of global commerce.

The European Union and the UK are also considering measures to curb imports of Chinese-made electric cars, despite the potential risk of slowing their adoption.

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Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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