US slaps increased tariffs on Chinese goods used in construction

The US government has announced that it is raising tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods, including on materials and machinery used in the construction industry.

The White House, USA (PHOTO: Adobe Stock)

The Biden-Harris administration said that the increased tariffs would affect US$18 billion worth of imported Chinese goods with the aim of “protecting American workers and businesses”.

The tariffs will be slapped on products including steel and aluminium, batteries for electric machinery, semiconductors, electric vehicles, critical minerals, solar cells, and ship-to-shore cranes.

In a statement, the White House said, “For too long, China’s government has used unfair, non-market practices. China’s forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft have contributed to its control of 70%, 80% and even 90% of global production for the critical inputs necessary for our technologies, infrastructure, energy and healthcare – creating unacceptable risks to America’s supply chains and economic security.”

It said the actions were “carefully targeted at strategic sectors”, which are the same areas where the government has already been supporting US businesses through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

The tariff increases, introduced under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 include:

Steel and aluminium: Rate on certain products will increase from 0-7.5% to 25% in 2024.

Semiconductors: Increasing from 25% to 50% by 2025.

Electric vehicles (EVs): Increasing from 25% to 100% in 2024. Commenting on the increase, the White House said, “With extensive subsidies and non-market practices leading to substantial risks of overcapacity, China’s exports of EVs grew by 70% from 2022 to 2023 – jeopardizing productive investments elsewhere.”

Batteries, battery components and parts, and critical minerals: The tariff rate on lithium-ion EV batteries will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024, while the tariff on lithium-ion non-EV batteries will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2026. The tariff rate on battery parts will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024.

The tariff rate on natural graphite and permanent magnets will increase from 0% to 25% in 2026 and for other critical minterals will increase from 0% to 25% in 2024. The White House said, “Despite rapid and recent progress in US onshoring, China currently controls over 80% of certain segments of the EV battery supply chain, particularly upstream nodes such as critical minerals mining, processing and refining. Concentration of critical minerals mining and refining capacity in China leaves our supply chains vulnerable and our national security and clean energy goals at risk.” It said the move to increase tariffs, alongside investment in the US battery supply chain, would build a domestic industrial base.

Solar cells: The tariff rate (whether or not assembled into modules) will increase from 25% to 50% in 2024.

The White House said, “Chinese policies and non-market practices are flooding global markets with artificially cheap solar modules and panels, undermining investment in solar manufacturing outside of China.”

Ship-to-shore cranes: The tariff will rise from 0% to 25% in 2024.

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