Joe Biden plans tariffs on Chinese electric cars to curb imports

  • Earlier this week, the US Commerce Secretary warned that the Biden administration could ban Chinese EVs or impose restrictions on them.
BYD Seal
BYD showcases Seal 06 DM-i electric vehicle at an event in Beijing, China on April 25. The Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers may find it tougher to sell their models in United States as the Biden administration plans restrictions and increase tariff on them. (REUTERS)
BYD Seal
BYD showcases Seal 06 DM-i electric vehicle at an event in Beijing, China on April 25. The Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers may find it tougher to sell their models in United States as the Biden administration plans restrictions and increase tariff on them.

President Joe Biden’s administration is poised to unveil a sweeping decision on China tariffs as soon as next week, one that’s expected to target key strategic sectors while rejecting the across-the-board hikes sought by Donald Trump, people familiar with the matter said.

The decision is the culmination of a review of so-called Section 301 tariffs first put into place under Trump starting in 2018. The new tariffs will focus on industries including electric vehicles, batteries and solar cells, with existing levies largely being maintained. An announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, two of the people said.

Also check these Cars

Find more Cars
Byd Seal (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon 82.56 kWh Range Icon650 km
₹ 41 - 53 Lakhs
View Offers
Toyota Camry (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon2487.0 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 46.17 Lakhs
Tesla Model 3 (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon82kWh Range Icon 555 km
₹ 40 Lakhs
View Details
Hyundai Kona Electric 2024 (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon64.8 kWh Range Icon418 Km
₹ 25 Lakhs
View Details
Hyundai Kona Electric (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon39.2 kWh Range Icon452 km
₹ 23.79 - 23.98 Lakhs
View Offers
Mahindra Xuv 3xo (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1197 cc FuelType IconPetrol
₹ 7.49 - 15.49 Lakhs
View Offers

While a decision could be delayed, it nonetheless represents one of Biden’s biggest moves in the economic race with China. It builds on his call last month to hike tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, and the formal launch of a fresh probe into China’s shipbuilding industry.

Economic Slowdown

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategy of ramping up manufacturing to arrest an economic slowdown at home has triggered alarm abroad. US and European Union leaders have warned Beijing that excessive state subsidies have fueled a deluge of cheap exports that are threatening jobs in their markets.

The US is standing up to China’s “unfair economic practice and industrial over-capacity," Biden said last month. “I’m not looking for a fight with China. I’m looking for competition, but fair competition."

Biden and Trump are both jockeying to be seen as tough on China as they head toward an anticipated rematch in the November election.

Trump has promised to hike tariffs on China across the board if reelected, vowing a 60% tax on all Chinese imports. But many Democrats have dismissed that approach, in part because it would raise prices for US consumers already grappling with inflation.

Also Read : Range Rover SUV buyers in this country are offered insurance costs by the carmaker after string of thefts

During Trump’s last administration, Washington and Beijing became embroiled in a tit—for-tat trade war, which saw China try to exact pain in the American heartland by targeting agricultural exports.

US Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Thursday evening he expects that China will respond. “We know how China reacted when Trump put tariffs on," Grassley said. “They hit agriculture with it. I can’t be sure that China would hit agriculture the same as they did in the Trump ones, but they’re going to hit back."

Also watch: BYD Seal first drive review

Strategic Tariffs

Biden’s announcement would be formally enacted by the office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The review of the tariffs began in 2022. Tai in an interview last month said that she expected a conclusion of that evaluation “soon," and that the administration had been looking at ways to make the tariffs more strategic and effective.

The move comes after Biden last month proposed new 25% tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, part of a series of steps to shore up the American steel sector and woo its workers in an election year. That move was viewed as largely symbolic, because China currently exports little of either metal to the US.

The full range of existing duties spans imports from industrial inputs, such as microchips and chemicals, to consumer merchandise including apparel and furniture. Trump imposed the first of the tariffs in 2018, citing section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

For years internal divisions prevented Biden’s team from arriving at a consensus on what to do about the tariffs. Some officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had argued that reducing curbs on household items could help ease US inflation.

While the Biden administration had considered the political implications of changes to the tariffs, USTR in late 2022 began a legally required formal review of their impact. In the absence of such an evaluation, the curbs would have started to automatically expire in mid-2022.

Under Trump, Washington and Beijing reached the so-called phase one agreement in early 2020. That reduced some duties in exchange for China pledging to address intellectual-property theft and buy energy, farm and manufactured goods along with services through December 2021. China fell more than one third short of its promises.

Biden’s tariff move comes after the his nation’s turbulent relationship with China has stabilized in recent months amid a flurry of diplomatic engagements. After the US president met his Chinese counterpart in California last November, Biden said they had achieved “real progress."

First Published Date: 10 May 2024, 09:06 AM IST

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers on

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city

Want to get the best price for your existing car?

Powered by: Spinny Logo
By clicking "View Offers" you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy
Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city
Couldn't verify the OTP.
It's either expired or it's incorrect.