Biden Proposes Tripling Tariffs On Chinese Steel Amid Political Pressures

 April 17, 2024

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden proposed a major increase in tariffs on Chinese steel, potentially tripling them to more than 22.5%. This move signals a dramatic shift in U.S. trade policy.

According to Daily Wire, President Biden announced his proposal during a speech at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh. The current tariff rate stands at about 7.5%, and this increase would be in addition to the existing 25% tariff on steel and a 10% duty on aluminum imposed during the Trump administration.

Amidst Political Challenges, Biden Adjusts Trade Policies

President Biden's pivot to stricter trade measures comes when former President Donald Trump is making inroads with unions traditionally allied with Democrats. This move by Biden reflects a strategic adaptation to the evolving political dynamics as Trump gains support.

Only last month, the Teamsters union, historically a Democratic supporter, contributed the maximum allowable amount to the Republican National Committee following discussions with Trump. This has raised concerns among Democrats about maintaining their traditionally strong union support in upcoming elections.

President Biden's approach in 2019 criticized Trump's policies for harming American sectors and consumers, asserting that Trump's strategy resulted in loss and increased costs for Americans.

Biden Once Advocated for Strategic Partnerships over Tariffs

In contrast to his recent propositions, President Biden previously emphasized cooperation with China. During his 2020 campaign, he advocated for a strategic partnership approach, highlighting the benefits of unity in the global economy for exerting influence over China.

Reflecting on his earlier stance, Biden had expressed, "China can’t afford to ignore half the global economy if we’re united. That gives us substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor to trade to technology to transparency."

Rising Concerns Within the Steel Industry Spur Government Action

Alongside trade policy alterations, the Biden administration launched an antitrust investigation last week into the potential sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel Corporation. This investigation reflects concerns about maintaining competitiveness and national interests in crucial industries.

The proposal to hike tariffs on Chinese steel also aligns with industry leaders' concerns about global market dynamics and maintaining a fair competitive edge. This is a matter of economic calculus and securing the industrial base in a rapidly changing global environment.

In his recent speeches, President Biden emphasized the need to "get tough" on China, a clear pivot from his previous calls for strengthened ties and cooperation rather than adversity.

A Focused Response to Union Support Shifting Towards Republicans

These developments come at a crucial time when there is a noticeable shift in union support, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, towards Trump and the Republican agenda.

Biden's recent measures could be seen as an attempt to consolidate support among important voter groups, such as those within the industrial sectors, ahead of the next election cycle. His decision reflects a nuanced understanding that the endorsement of these groups may hinge on perceptions of economic protection and national strength, particularly in trade policies.

The proposal announced on Wednesday clearly indicates that the administration is seeking to recalibrate its approach in response to both domestic political pressures and evolving global economic challenges.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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