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Biden Seeks Higher China Steel Tariffs 04/17 06:28

   President Joe Biden is calling for a tripling of tariffs on steel from China 
to protect American producers from a flood of cheap imports, an announcement he 
planned to roll out Wednesday in an address to steelworkers in the battleground 
state of Pennsylvania.

   SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- President Joe Biden is calling for a tripling of 
tariffs on steel from China to protect American producers from a flood of cheap 
imports, an announcement he planned to roll out Wednesday in an address to 
steelworkers in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

   The move reflects the intersection of Biden's international trade policy 
with his efforts to court voters in a state that is likely to play a pivotal 
role in deciding November's election.

   The White House insists, however, that it is more about shielding American 
manufacturing from unfair trade practices overseas than firing up a union 

   In addition to boosting steel tariffs, Biden also will seek to triple levies 
on Chinese aluminum. The current rate is 7.5% for both metals. The 
administration also promised to pursue anti-dumping investigations against 
countries and importers that try to saturate existing markets with Chinese 
steel, and said it was working with Mexico to ensure that Chinese companies 
can't circumvent the tariffs by shipping steel there for subsequent export to 
the U.S.

   "The president understands we must invest in American manufacturing. But we 
also have to protect those investments and those workers from unfair exports 
associated with China's industrial overcapacity," White House National Economic 
Adviser Lael Brainard said on a call with reporters.

   Biden was set to announce that he is asking the U.S. Trade Representative to 
consider tripling the tariffs during a visit to United Steelworkers union 
headquarters in Pittsburgh. The president is on a three-day Pennsylvania swing 
that began in Scranton on Tuesday and will include a visit to Philadelphia on 

   The administration says China is distorting markets and eroding competition 
by unfairly flooding the market with below-market-cost steel.

   "China's policy-driven overcapacity poses a serious risk to the future of 
the American steel and aluminum industry," Brainard said. Referencing China's 
economic downturn, she added that Beijing "cannot export its way to recovery."

   "China is simply too big to play by its own rules," Brainard said.

   Higher tariffs can carry major economic risks. Steel and aluminum could 
become more expensive, possibly increasing the costs of cars, construction 
materials and other key goods for U.S. consumers.

   Inflation has already been a drag on Biden's political fortunes, and his 
turn toward protectionism echoes the playbook of his predecessor and opponent 
in this fall's election, Donald Trump.

   The former president imposed broader tariffs on Chinse goods during his 
administration, and has threatened to increase levies on Chinese goods unless 
they trade on his preferred terms as he campaigns for a second term. An outside 
analysis by the consultancy Oxford Economics has suggested that implementing 
the tariffs Trump has proposed could hurt the overall U.S. economy.

   Senior Biden administration officials said that, unlike the Trump 
administration, they were seeking a "strategic and balanced" approach to new 
tariff rates. China produces around half of the world's steel, and is already 
making far more than its domestic market needs. It sells steel on the world 
market for less than half what U.S.-produced steel costs, the officials said.

   Biden's announcement follows his administration's efforts to provide up to 
$6.6 billion so that a Taiwanese semiconductor giant can expand facilities that 
it is already building in Arizona and better ensure that the world's 
most-advanced microchips are produced in the U.S. That move could be seen as 
working to better compete with China chip manufacturers.

   Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, during a recent visit to China, warned 
against oversaturating the market with cheap goods, and said low-cost steel had 
"decimated industries across the world and in the United States." The Chinese, 
in turn, expressed grave concern over American trade and economic measures that 
restrict China, according to the China's official news agency. U.S. Secretary 
of State Anthony Blinken also has an upcoming visit to China.

   Also potentially shaking up the steel industry is Japanese Nippon Steel's 
proposed acquisition of Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. Biden said last month that 
he opposed the move.

   "U.S. Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a 
century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is 
domestically owned and operated," Biden said then.

   At a rally last weekend in Pennsylvania, Trump tore into Biden over Nippon 
Steel's efforts to buy U.S. Steel, ignoring the president's objections to the 

   "I would not let that deal go through," Trump said.

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