US announces higher China tariffs, including 100% for EVs

Business Wednesday 15/May/2024 08:25 AM
By: DW
US announces higher China tariffs, including 100% for EVs

The White House said on Tuesday that it was increasing tariffs for goods from China worth some $18 billion (roughly €16.5 billion), calling it a response to Beijing's "unfair" trade practices.

"China's unfair trade practices concerning technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are threatening American businesses and workers," the White House said. "China is also flooding global markets with artificially low-priced exports."

What's being subjected to more tariffs?

Perhaps the most notable and sharpest increase was for Chinese-built electric vehicles.

The tariff will increase from 25% to 100% for these, plus some other extra costs, with the White House citing "extensive subsidies and non-market practices leading to substantial risks of overcapacity" as its rationale.

Semiconductors, batteries and battery packs, some steel and aluminium products, various minerals and ores from manganese to cobalt, and radioactive substances were among the other items set to face increased import costs.

Medical equipment like respirators and face masks and syringes and needles are also included, goods that were for the most part tariff-free until now.

Some of the restrictions will be implemented this year, according to the US government, while others — such as doubling semiconductor tariffs from 25% to 50% — will be phased in gradually by 2025.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that she'd warned Chinese officials of the US concerns and discussed the reasoning on her recent trip to the country.

"These overcapacity concerns are widely shared by our partners across advanced economies and emerging markets, motivated not by anti-China policy but by a desire to prevent damaging economic dislocation from unfair economic practices," Yellen said. 

US says measures designed to complement green investments at home

Many of the changes focus on China's emerging power in the renewable energy, battery and electric mobility sectors.

Replacement lithium-ion batteries and battery parts for cars and other lithium-ion batteries will face tariffs, along with natural graphite and permanent magnets for these batteries, solar panels, and several minerals necessary for an array of green technologies.

"Today’s actions to counter China’s unfair trade practices are carefully targeted at strategic sectors — the same sectors where the United States is making historic investments under President Biden to create and sustain good-paying jobs," the White House said. 

The statement also criticized previous President Donald Trump's attempt to put limitations on trade with China during his tenure, saying it "failed to increase American exports or boost American manufacturing as it had promised."

China is sure to be among the foreign policy issues to feature in the US presidential election campaign in the coming months.