Biden Trade Chief Sees Conclusion of China Tariff Review ‘Soon’

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden’s trade chief said that she expects a conclusion on a review of tariffs on more than $300 billion in Chinese goods “soon,” and that the administration has been looking at ways to make them more strategic and effective.

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Biden has kept in place the tariffs inherited from Donald Trump for “strategic purposes” and sees them as effective leverage in dealing with Beijing, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Annmarie Hordern and Jonathan Ferro on Friday.

Chinese overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors are threats not only to the US but to countries around the world and requires a strong response, Tai said.

The administration is looking to “stand up to the coercion that results when you have these types of vulnerabilities that can be used to create political pressures on economies,” Tai said.

Biden on Wednesday called for higher tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum as he seeks to woo union workers ahead of November’s election. The new tariffs Biden is pushing — meant to shore up the American steel sector and court its workers — would impose 25% levies on certain Chinese steel and aluminum products. They would be applied as part of an ongoing review, while the US also launches a formal probe into China’s shipbuilding industry.

The increase in metal tariffs on China comes as imports from the nation for years have been uneconomic for domestic buyers. The combination of current tariffs under Section 301, Trump-era tariffs under Section 232 and other existing anti-dumping and countervailing duties effectively eliminated imports of Chinese steel and aluminum.

Tai’s office also is launching a formal review of China’s maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sector, a probe that a group of five major union groups sought last month.

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