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Biden will keep Trump's China tariffs, and add new ones on electric vehicles

President Biden makes his way to Air Force One after posing with highway patrol troopers in Mountain View, Calif. on May 10.
Mandel Ngan
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden makes his way to Air Force One after posing with highway patrol troopers in Mountain View, Calif. on May 10.

The Biden administration is getting ready to announce new tariffs on imports of goods from China — products like electric vehicles deemed to be policy priorities.

The announcement, which could come as early as next week, was confirmed by a source familiar with the tariff deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement of the decision.

The administration has been reviewing tariffs on Chinese goods since President Biden took office — steep duties on about $370 billion of imports from China each year, put in place by former President Donald Trump as one of his signature policy moves.

The Biden administration has decided to keep those Trump tariffs in place — and in addition, add a range of strategic items to the list. The decision was first reported by Bloomberg.

Tariffs are a piece of Biden's industrial policy

The new items that will be subject to tariffs align with Biden's policy priorities on climate, technology and manufacturing, the source said. These areas are covered by Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, which made hundreds of billions of dollars available to boost the domestic clean energy and semiconductor sectors.

Biden has been campaigning hard on jobs created by the big legislative packages. He has insisted that projects will use American-made goods and labor.

"When folks see shovels in the ground on all these projects, when they see new pipes being laid and people going to work, I hope they feel the pride that I feel — pride in their hometowns making a comeback," he said last week in Wilmington, N.C.

It's a message aimed at resonating in swing states that lost massive numbers of jobs when manufacturing moved offshore — states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Last month, Biden announced in a speech to United Steelworkers union members in Pittsburgh that he wants to hike tariffs on imports of Chinese steel and aluminum, noting that more than 14,000 steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio had lost their jobs between 2000 and 2010.

"I promise you that I'm not going to let that happen again," he said.

Trump has also said he would broaden tariffs on imported goods, including targeting Chinese cars.

Biden in Pittsburgh sought to contrast his approach as "strategic and targeted" and has said Trump's broader approach would raise costs for U.S. consumers.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.